Skills for People is a charity preparing adults with learning disabilities for employment, and supporting them through employment. One of its services is “Quality Checkers”. This provides an Experts by Experience audit on the support services offered to adults with learning disabilities, as a commercial offering. It’s funded by the local authority or by the support organisation.
Does the service provide value for money?
Organisations that provide services to this market sector wanted to know whether the audit service represents value for money – the audits usually check services being offered to groups of 10 – 50 people and cost up to £10,000.
We expected that the audits would show areas for improvement, which would lead to higher user satisfaction, which would lead to increased business. We were surprised that the impact was much larger, and much more immediate.
- The people being audited, who in many cases had severe communication difficulties, changed their behaviour following an audit. They felt that they (or if they personally weren’t involved, then someone they knew) had been listened to. This change in behaviour reduced the amount of support required, which reduced the cost of support by £5.78 for each £1 spent on user-experience audits – a saving for the Local Authority making the PIP payments.
- Changes in staff attitudes to the people they care for had a positive impact on sickness and staff turnover. Staff sickness reduced from 5.5% to 4.5%. This equated to £1.17 saved for each £1 spent on the audits. This saving improved the financial position of the support organisation.
Organisations met more of the contractual quality standards. This reduced the costs to the local authority of contract management – to the tune of £1.48 per £1 spent on audits. These returns proved to be additive – these three changes resulted in savings of £8.43 per £1 spent, and the total SROI ratio on this initiative (taking into account all of the changes, both positive and negative, and the proportion that should be attributed to the user-experience audits) averaged £11.40 per £1 spent over the 2 ½ years following the audits.