An initiative by service provider Choice Support to remove waking night staff from community-based supported living services for people with learning disabilities has saved a local authority £250,000, a report has found.

The report, Better Nights, by think-tank the Centre for Welfare Reform, found that replacing waking night staff with sleep-in staff and assistive technology in services to 26 people with learning disabilities resulted in better outcomes for people using the service.

The initiative is part of a process undertaken by Choice Support and Southwark Council to break down a large block contract into personalised services.

Report authors Professor Roger Ellis OBE and Professor David Sines CBE, of the Social and Health Evaluation Unit of Bucks New University found:

•A £256,902 per annum saving for Southwark Council
•10 examples of qualitative improvements in peoples’ lives.
They added that risks were properly assessed and ameliorated using assistive technology, and that there was full stakeholder consultation in what was a well-managed project.

Writing in the report’s foreword, Chris Dorey, commissioning manager at Southwark Council, and Steven Rose, chief executive of Choice Support, said:

“We believe that this report describes the first example in the UK of waking night staff being successfully removed on such a large scale. Not only has money been saved but people’s lives have been enhanced through the use of assistive technology [which] has enabled the delivery of support in less intrusive, more cost effective ways.

“This evaluation… is an important piece of research that highlights potential to copy this approach. It suggests that if more widely adopted the approach has the potential to help providers and commissioners manage the significant pressures on social care budgets up and down the country.”

Better Nights is the second of three planned reports published by the Centre for Welfare Reform describing the personalisation of what was a traditional block contract for 83 people with learning disabilities.

It is available as a free download at: http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/better-nights.html