Sir Martin Narey gave Commissioners and Providers alike a welcome preview of some “themed” feedback on his wide ranging research into residential care for children at the recent annual National Childrens Commissioners Conference in Swanwick, Derbyshire.
Sir Martins Narey`s report (due to be published in July) is likely to be viewed as shaping the future of residential care for children for the next decade and probably beyond.
Of particular interest to Keys Group (as a specialist provider of services to children with complex, acute or overlapping needs) were Sir Martins comments around commissioning practice across regions and issues around distance.
Sir Martin feels commissioning “can be done better” as some current commissioning regrettably bedevils the positive use of residential child care and that quality Providers need the confidence of a more assured income.
Happily when visiting Keys Groups Cross Regional Project (see link on Keys home page) earlier in the spring, he has had the opportunity to see existing examples of the benefits to be gained of improved partnership approaches which when allied to progressive commissioning practice can both improve targeted occupancy, reduce unit costs and most importantly improve outcomes for children placed.
Sir Martin is correct in that more assurance of occupancy results in reduced fees. He had seen how the CRP consortia of Thames Valley authorities could ‘block’ purchase at a stated fee level when the data shows a business case. This was progressive block purchasing, done differently than previously, being focussed on specific identified needs with a clear evidence informed and enacted practice, specialist and targeted, with shared responsibility and an appreciation of the working together as a wider system.
On distance of placements Sir Martin is not of the view that distance has the importance it is given. ‘The right place matters more than distance.’ Outstanding care is not necessarily close to home. It is important that a placement should be one where a child can be ‘thriving.’ He comments “Care is not geographical but emotional and psychological.”
We at Keys Group await the publication of Sir Martin Nareys report with great interest to underpin our approach and work – the future of many children in or destined for residential care depends on his progressive and positive findings
NB: Acknowledgements for much of the above to Jonathan Stanley Principal Partner NCERCC