Examples of over-provision of care for people with learning disabilities have been uncovered in 9 local authorities and 33 service providers by a research project that highlighted an approach which could identify more appropriate levels of support.
An independent research project by the University of Birmingham, with independent financial analysis undertaken by KPMG, tested the ‘Just Right’ approach, which combines the use of Just Checking activity monitoring equipment to provide information about the activity of service users with advice about person-centred care planning.
The project highlighted where care packages were not at an appropriate level – whether care was under or over-provided – and that cost savings could be made. But it also highlighted that a person-centred planning approach was crucial for driving change.
Just Checking uses small wireless sensors placed around an individual’s home to build an objective picture of their daily living routine, without the use of cameras or microphones. Participating care providers installed Just Checking technology into a sample of residential or supported living accommodation units in which adults with learning disabilities were accommodated. It was used to provide information on the activity of service users and to help determine if their care packages were appropriate or could be adjusted to meet their needs.
Just Checking has already been used by 80% of local authorities to assess people with dementia who were living alone. This new independent study is the first time that research had been undertaken to determine if the approach could be useful in identifying more appropriate levels of care for adults with learning disabilities.
The research showed that Just Checking provides information that can be used to design more appropriate care packages for adults with learning disabilities or to confirm that existing care packages are appropriate.
It identified that changes could be made to care packages in all 9 local authorities that took part in the research.
Care providers taking part in the research project reported a range of outcomes from being involved in the Just Checking project. These included improved outcomes for service users, improved person-centred support and achievement of goals, greater independence and autonomy for service users, having objective data on which to base decisions, identifying previously unknown issues and the ability to reconfigure the support to a more appropriate level.
Birmingham University concluded that the Just Checking approach is viable, acceptable and useful to service providers and commissioners of care for adults with learning disabilities.
KPMG’s analysis found over-provisions of care, or potential savings, of £1.577 million over a 12-month period, and under-provisions of care totalling £692,000 over 12 months.
Birmingham University found that there was no identifiable correlation between conditions/needs of the service user and potential under or over-provision of care, and therefore savings. It also found no clear correlation between tenants residing in a single or a multiple accommodation unit and whether potential under or over-provision of care had been identified.
The research found that successful implementation is dependent on how well stakeholders receive the approach and that a narrative around person-centred planning, identifying over-care, improving quality of life and increasing independence and autonomy, is needed to drive change.
The research also investigated enabling factors that support the successful implementation of Just Checking. These included keeping an open mind, communicating effectively with staff, service users and families, involving stakeholders and supporting staff to build understanding and confidence.
Simon Price, chief executive of Just Checking, said: “The Just Checking technology shows when service users are independent and when they call on care staff, the effect of staff actions, and the appropriateness of care plans. It highlights where over-care exists, and how it can be changed to be more person-centred, leading to better outcomes for service users and more economical and sustainable services for commissioning bodies.
“We are delighted that this independent research by the University of Birmingham and KPMG has confirmed the value of the Just Checking approach in care planning for adults with learning disabilities. It provides the evidence required by commissioners to take up the approach, and we hope, therefore, that this will allow Just Checking to make an important contribution to the future care planning for those with learning disabilities.”