The executive director of Adult Care and Community Wellbeing at Lincolnshire County Council has spoken about how “forward thinking” and “collaborative working” has helped care providers in the area get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking during the Virtual Care Festival on Wednesday, Glen Garrod said the arrangements that were in place locally, before coronavirus hit, made a “significant difference” to how the council responded to the crisis.
“One of the things in Lincolnshire that we had in advance was a structure where local providers – over 350 of them – worked through an umbrella organisation. So we had a clear voice for social care provision, which has been in place now for eight or nine years,” he said.
“The consequence of that is that the communication and dialogue was much more solid.”
Garrod said his Public Health infection control unit was particularly well received by provider colleagues.
“If there were any confusing messages coming out of different parts of government, then colleagues providing services would know where to go to get clarification,” he explained.
“We also had weekly meetings with the provider collaborative, and we were able to pre-order PPE supplies when it was clear that we could not rely on MHCLG to deliver them quickly enough.”
CQC good practice
In July and August, Lincolnshire was one of 11 local areas reviewed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to find out how care providers were working collaboratively in their response to COVID-19.
Since then, Lincolnshire CC’s work has been highlighted as an example of “good practice” by the regulator.
Collaboration between system leaders was facilitated by the creation of cells, or groups – linked to the local resilience forum – to plan and deliver services across the system for specific pathways of care or population groups, including those aged 65 and over.
The council set up cells for palliative care, primary care, pharmacy and prescribing, recovery, patient discharge, volunteering and community response, to ensure there is a route to feedback and pathways are safe.
“We benefitted from an early discharge agreement from our acute trusts to make sure that there were no discharges without a known COVID status,” said Garrod. “That was really helpful in managing transmission. In the first wave, we were one of the lowest transmission areas in the country.”
The availability of support for the adult social care sector has also been dependent on developing mutual support between providers.
“So if one part of the county is running out of provision, we’re able to fund the movement of staff between providers, with their agreement, to areas most in need. That’s been terribly helpful,” Garrod explained.
And home care providers in Lincolnshire have developed a collaborative approach to recruiting staff.
“They’re not fishing from the same pond and competing with each other – they are able to recruit collectively, and that’s been supported through the local Lincolnshire economic firm,” the council leader said.
Garrod said the adult social care system in Lincolnshire is not “bullet proof”, but that “forward thinking” and “working collectively” have given the council and care providers a “solid base on which to cope”.