The Better Care Fund (BCF) is a national programme that aims to improve ways local health and social care services work together. The fund has been in place since 2014 following an announcement from Central Government in 2013 outlining and providing funding to support social care to keep people out of hospital and support a timely discharge from hospital, moving the pressure away from NHS services.
To do this successfully, pooled budgets arrangements in local areas were implemented to help the local authority and NHS organisations jointly deliver and plan services. In Walsall, the pooled budget arrangement is between Walsall Council and Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group. The allocation is broken down across three main elements;
- A main programme of activity which includes funding of the Intermediate Care Service
- Additional funding described as improved BCF allocated in 2016 with grant conditions attached. In Walsall it has been utilised to fund resources in Adult Social Care such as additional social worker capacity and the internal brokerage function
- Additional seasonal allocation to support winter demand described as winter pressures, which has funded short term schemes such as re-ablement training and additional packages of care to support hospital discharges for older people
The BCF conditions stipulate the allocation must be used for:
- The purposes of meeting adult social care needs
- Reducing pressure on the NHS, including supporting more people to be discharged from hospital when they are ready
- Ensuring that the local social care provider market is supported
As a local system, Walsall are required to demonstrate how we are performing against four performance metrics;
- Reduction in non-elective admissions
- Reduction in Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOCs)
- Increase in older people remaining at home 91 days after a hospital admission
- Reduction in the number of permanent residential admissions
To ensure local assurance and compliance, Walsall has implemented the BCF commissioning and performance integrated group. The group is formed of members from Walsall Council and Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group who meet monthly to discuss and review spend, performance and activity of all BCF funded schemes, and provide assurance along with seeking approval from the Joint Commissioning Committee.
As a local system, we are required to prepare and submit quarterly returns to the national BCF team, detailing our local position against the performance metrics above. These returns are presented to Walsall Health and Wellbeing Board for review and sign off. We are also required to seek sing off and agreement from the board in relation to any annual returns regarding BCF.
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