Posts tagged ‘Commissioners’

September 9, 2013

APPG – All Pretty Pessimistic (and) Gloomy

I attended the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) this afternoon which focused on commissioning and the impact of localism on the VAWG sector.  Chaired by Bridget Phillipson, MP, we had three excellent presentations from Polly Neate, CEO of Women’s Aid, Mary Mason, CEO of Solace Women’s Aid and Anthony Wills, CEO of Standing Together.  Polly reminded us of the Government’s commitment to strengthening the commissioning framework and improving support for women and girls locally.  The picture that all three painted of what is happening in practice seemed a far cry from this.

The themes that emerged included the fact that many parts of the sector didn’t have the capacity to respond to the new commissioning requirements with often inconsistent standards and outcome frameworks, small specialist organisations and the need for them to have pretty sophisticated business development teams which simply don’t exist widely.  Concerns were expressed about too much focus on high risk at the expense of early intervention and long term support.  [It will amaze you to know, that we don’t think that the two are mutually exclusive – see previous blogs on Themis].  Other points included a lack of input from service users, the loss of self help and activism and the loss of former service users ending up working in, and often leading, specialist services as generic providers win contracts. All the speakers rightly stressed the importance of specialist services and were worried that commissioning processes often ended up with the wrong provider winning the contract with too much focus on cost versus quality.  There was a call for a commissioning framework for the sector, and for longer term contracts as well as clear and simple indicators and outcome measures.  The tone of the meeting was indeed APPG, All Pretty Pessimistic and Gloomy.

Probably the most positive part of the meeting was the call for our sector to speak with one voice on these issues.  We certainly would like to see this happen.

Within CAADA we are trying to address some of these points as they relate to IDVA provision in particular, but also more widely to build the evidence base for other services to demonstrate their impact.   Our Shared Insights – Shared Outcomes programme aims to link specialist providers with their local commissioner(s) to ensure that these specialisms are not lost, their value is quantified and the experience of service users drives decisions by commissioners, service managers and practitioners.  We can provide output and outcome data for all the key community based services that are delivered by specialist providers.  If you think that this might be useful to your service, please see http://www.caada.org.uk/commissioners/Insights-for-commissioners.html

Similarly, we are starting to develop materials for commissioners so that they can commission to the standards that we would all hope to see.  You can help us by making sure that your local commissioner is aware of these and please contact us if you think we can support you in this area.  There is more information about this at http://www.caada.org.uk/commissioners/information-for-commissioners.html

Finally, we believe our Leading Lights accreditation provides IDVA services with independent verification of the quality of their provision and demonstrates this objectively to commissioners.

We share the deep concerns expressed by all attending the meeting about what is happening with commissioning in some areas and certainly would love to see the whole sector advocate for a model of support that includes both immediate practical help and longer term therapeutic support for victims and their children.  We really don’t feel that it is an either/or debate between high risk and other services, but rather that we should all be pulling in one direction to create a model that delivers safety and well being outcomes as well genuine value for money with a relentless focus on earlier intervention.  So would that be a different sort of APPG? A Possible Path to Growth?  Maybe that is stretching things too far….

November 17, 2012

Measurement – what, why and for whom?

The latest NPC newsletter highlighted comments from Francis Maude about the importance of impact measurement (you can read the original here: Minister urges embedding of impact at NPC conference http://bit.ly/QOphf7 ) by charities hoping to compete for local authority contracts.  The article goes on to point out that about half of charities have increased their measurement in order to meet the needs of their funders, and only 5% with the aim of improving their services – although 25% said it did improve their services.

At CAADA we care a lot about information, evidence and measurement – indeed our Insights service works with about 100 practitioners across 20 service providers to collect information directly from service users.  Of course we see a value in ‘meeting the needs of funders’ but we see a MUCH bigger value in understanding how the profile of different service users differs, what interventions are effective, how this learning can be shared across multiple small service providers, and how it can be used to shape commissioning and policy.  It is in the ALIGNMENT of all these actors that we achieve real change for beneficiaries – ensuring that all use exactly the same data to inform their decisions and ensuring that the service user’s experience drives the whole process and encourages the improvements in practice and innovation that we all wish to see.  For more about Insights, see the Commissioners page on our website. (CAADA: domestic abuse service commissioners – domestic violence service commissioning – outcomes measurement http://bit.ly/XkJXy6 )

So the WHAT we measure, is information that is useful to practitioners or it won’t be collected consistently.  The WHY we measure is to help us understand better what works, how to shape our response and what good commissioning looks like.  The FOR WHOM we measure is for beneficiaries – to be sure that we spend our resources in the way that achieves the best outcomes for them.  And if we do all these things we will have aligned the interests of practitioners, service managers, funders, commissioners and policy makers to focus on what is good for the beneficiary.  End of lecture.