Staffordshire County Council
“Staffordshire County Council were struggling with a backlog of 800 assessments and growing. Like most Councils, we didn’t have the Best Interests Assessor capacity to cope with the demand and backlog. Following a detailed scoping meeting, ICS Assessment Services proposed an option where they would take on responsibility for delivery of a proportion of the backlog, including the quality assurance of the assessments.
ICS took a consultative approach, listening to our needs and developed a bespoke solution that met our requirements. The project has delivered the key objectives around a number of assessments within agreed timescales, and the quality of the assessments overall has been good. The initial contract period was three months and we have extended the project following that initial period due to the strength of delivery.
ICS have demonstrated the right approach and values for a project such as this with a real focus on delivering a positive outcome for us as commissioners."
Sarah Hollinshead-Bland, County Commissioner Safeguarding, Staffordshire County Council
1,090 Best Interests Assessments Backlog
Following the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on the Mental Capacity Act in 2013, many local authorities have seen a massive rise in Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs) cases.
ICS Assessment Services were approached by Staffordshire County Council in January 2015, and invited to present a model to address the Council’s DoLS backlog. Over a period of 9 months, we cleared the entire 880 case backlog. We were then allocated a final batch of 210 assessments, bringing the total completed to 1,090.
- Council faced a backlog of 880 DoLS cases
- Backlog cleared within 9 months
- Total of 1,090 Best Interests Assessments completed by our projects team
- 98% of assessments accepted at first submission by the Council, compared to less than 50% under their previous arrangements.
- Assessments completed at a rate of 27 per week, compared to around 10 per week under previous arrangements.
Starting in January 2015, we received an initial allocation of 265 assessments to be completed within 3 months. Following our successful completion of this batch, we were given three subsequent batches. In total, over the 12 months we completed 1,090 best interest assessments for the Council. We proposed an outsourced assessment model, tailored to Staffordshire’s situation, which incorporated:
- Structured, batch case allocation securely transferred from the Council’s backlog to ICS
- A cohort of locally-based Best Interest Assessors (BIAs) used to complete the assessments
- An in-house DoLS Administration Team to liaise with the Council, dealing with the secure transfer of data and allocation of assessments to BIAs
- Assessors overseen and co-ordinated by our experienced DoLS Lead
- Completed assessments Quality Assured by our DoLS Lead to the Council’s own standards, before being returned for Authorisation.
Utilising the standard ADASS Forms and working to exacting standards throughout, we enabled signatories to return Form 5swith confidence, as evidenced via quarterly extensions to the contract. Our work has helped to protect the borough from potential legal action.
We’ve also helped the council to implement a new model for commissioning independent Best Interests Assessors, using a payment by results model rather than an hourly pay rate to optimise the quality of assessments.
Our commitment to quality assurance and helping assessors improve their practice has helped to develop the skills of the local workforce. By working with local BIAs to improve their insight and assessment skills, we have ensured that there is increased capacity to do this kind of work in the future.