Partner and provider relationships

Theme 3: The full buy-in and support from local partners and providers is essential to achieving the values and beliefs.

The local authority is uniquely positioned in a place to forge relationships between all partners and providers involved in the delivery of adult social care. To achieve this, authorities will see one of their roles as the key coordinator of local relationships at a place level.

The importance of partnership working has been brought into sharp focus during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for care has fluctuated significantly, and all partners have had to rapidly adapt to new processes and ways of working. This strain has placed even more importance on these critical relationships.

Key findings:

  • In an optimised system, authorities recognise that they can’t deliver their ambition for promoting independence on their own, and so seek the full support and buy-in from their local providers and partners.
  • One of the most fundamental conditions that helps bring organisations together is sharing a common goal.  Over the last year, responding to COVID-19 has provided a very clear and shared goal, which in some cases has improved the quality of partnerships. However, on the other hand some systems have experienced a worsening of relationships under the strain of this pressure which demonstrates the need for other conditions to underpin brilliant partnerships.
  • Common constraints to effective partnership working include:
  • ~The ability to share data and information freely.  In an optimised model, authorities will have the right legal relationships (Data Sharing Agreements) between partners across the system and invest in digital systems with a high degree of interoperability.
  • ~Financial constraints.  Collaborating with partners to remove financial constraints and share risk allows authorities to optimise the outcome, both financially and in terms of outcomes for individuals, across the whole system. 
  • There are some specific sectors which optimised systems prioritise establishing partnering arrangements with:
  • ~Health. In optimised systems, these two disciplines work closely together but also recognise their differences and respect each other’s roles in the system, acknowledging both sets of skills are important to improve the lives of individuals. 
  • ~Housing. Poor quality or inadequate housing can significantly increase a person’s need for care and so ensuring appropriate housing is available is an important part of adult social care. This is a particularly important partnership in upper-tier county authorities, where the housing responsibilities sits with the district council, and so adult social care need to influence their district partners. 
  • ~Care Providers. Optimised systems are increasingly treating these relationships as mutually beneficial partnerships, rather than traditional ‘commissioner – provider’ relationships. These authorities commission with a focus on outcomes, such that there is a fundamental alignment of organisational objectives.