Pioneering project brings services closer to the people who use them

The project run by Oxfordshire County Council involved about 60 people with learning disabilities and members of their families in the appointment of five new service providers to run contracts worth a total £15million

Service users and/or a member of their families sat on the evaluation panels which examined all the bids to provide 18 supported living services before deciding on the five successful providers.

The council has always sought to involve service users at some stage in the selection of new providers but  this is the first time that this has been done on such a large scale and with service users and families involved from the very start of the process.

This means that on April 1,2016 when the contracts came into force the appointment of the new providers will have been heavily influenced by some of the people who will use them.

Kate Terroni, Oxfordshire County Council’s Deputy Director Joint commissioning said: ”When we first asked our service users and their families if they would like to be involved in the selection process we thought a few would respond but we were amazed and delighted when  60 of them volunteered to take part.

“This meant that we had service users and/or members of their families, from mums and dads through to brothers, sisters and uncles, on the evaluation panels for all the bids we considered.

“There were more bids than we expected so having so many service users and their families taking part in evaluating those bids was fantastic because we wanted people to have a choice  and make the final decision about who their care and support provider should be.

“Three of the providers selected are new to working in Oxfordshire so we have the added value of fresh providers in the local care marketKate added: “This was a very exciting development in the way we contract our services but it was important we had feedback from the people who had volunteered to be involved so after every evaluation we asked them for their thoughts and comments. The responses were fantastic -   every single one was positive.”

Feedback included:

“Thankyou for letting us be part of today, it’s a worrying time for parents and it’s been really positive to be part of something which impacts in the outcome”

“I appreciated being asked, it’s been helpful and good to know the background and the behind the scenes. Glad to meet to meet new people and I know who to bother if needs be; I hope it goes well with our new provider”

“My favourite bit was joining all together to get the job done”

“I would have paid to be here today”

Kate said: “I would like to thank all the people who gave up their time and stepped forward to take part in this initiative. Their input and experience was extremely valuable.

The successful providers were:

United Response from Sheldon Corner, Wiltshire  

Brandon Trust  from Gloucestershire, 
Turning Point   from London

Dimensions from  Chippenham, Wiltshire, 

Affinity Trust Affinity Trust from Aldershot, Hants,