Unchartered territory – Raj Shroff, Director of Support Services at Midland Heart takes a look at delivering one of the UK’s largest Payment by Outcomes contracts
Our journey into unchartered territory began back in 2013 following a tender process for Birmingham City Council’s Supporting People contracts. We were successful in winning a contract to deliver a range of support services, but with one major difference, this was one of the UK’s largest Payment by Outcomes (PBO) contracts.
Payment by Outcomes, also known as Payment by Results (PbR), is central to Government’s plans for changing the way public services are delivered. The concept supports service providers to replace centrally imposed targets with a system of payment by results that offer financial awards to agencies delivering services, while also helping to evidence what is working in commissioned services for vulnerable people.
Although we had worked on contracts of this size before, and delivered contracts that follow the PBO concept, we had never done it on this scale.
The Birmingham SP contract is a four year contract worth £4.5m, £500,000 of that payment is outcomes based; nine lots, nearly 30 buildings and 160 support staff - we were heading into a brave new world of contract delivery.
Staff training and their overall view of the PBO concept was crucial to our success. Following the launch of the contract we took time to roll it out to all of our staff, translate how the different elements would work and what PBO would actually mean to staff in their day to day roles.
We also incorporated the work that we would be doing to honour the PBO element of the contract into our own digital support system, OSKA, so that it was a natural extension of the work that staff were already doing.
However, that is just one element, our customers are at the heart of all that we do and the PBO concept takes this to another level!
Customer outcomes are appropriate to each individual customer, mandatory outcomes: achieving independence and access to healthcare are set out for each customer from the beginning but a further three outcomes are selected based on the main needs that are presented.
For example a single homeless customer’s outcomes are different to those with complex needs but are an important part of their journey towards independence i.e. maximising income, stay safe, reducing offending, manage substance misuse or to maintain accommodation to name a few.
This method of service delivery has been a challenge for the organisation as a whole as finance, legal and operations are working more closely than on any other contract, but this equally presents us with opportunities at a time when the sector is facing unprecedented challenges.
Working with more than 600 customers at any one time we provide and protect services for those vulnerable individuals. We continue to tackle the opportunities this brave new world presents us with to help our customers live happy and independent lives.