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Overview
Following the introduction of Personal Budgets and an improvement programme including modernisation of day services, Nottinghamshire County Council wanted an IT solution to streamline recording attendance at day services, charging services and moving away from cash collection.
There were approximately 2,000 Service Users attending day care centres within Nottinghamshire who were all paying cash on arrival at the centre for attendance, meals and transport services. All private day care centres submitted paper invoices which required authenticating and processing. This process was resource intensive and open to manual error.
The council had a business improvement programme looking at commissioning rules and needed to implement two projects; an internal project for council day care centres and an external project for private day care centres.
Two solutions were required; a day care register system for in house provision which automated attendance records and linked directly to charging of Service Users. For private provision the requirement was to remove the need for paper invoices transferring administrative input to the provider and again linking directly to charging of Service Users.

Solution
Nottinghamshire utilised the Non-Residential Provider Payments functionality in abacus eSolutions' System. This provided the Council with an online system enabling providers to self-bill, removing the need for paper invoices and manual data entry.
Payment rules were configured in line with local policy detailing information such as rates for half and full day attendance, rates for transport. This then linked to individual Service Users that detailed who should be charged and the level of contribution required. Once configured the system applied this information automatically and paid providers appropriately.

Benefits
Nottinghamshire have experienced the benefits listed below since introducing the Non-Residential Provider Payments functionality;

  • Data quality has improved dramatically.
    Prior to the use of Abacus, the Council could not easily access immediate and reliable information about who had a planned service to attend external day service providers, at what price, or for how many days per week. This is available within a few easy steps now and can be imported into excel for further analysis e.g. of attendance trends over time.
  • Administrative work for community assessment teams has been removed
    They no longer have to check and approve provider invoices for payment. Many of the invoices being submitted were general in nature and did not specify client details or attendance.
  • Providers are paid every 2 weeks
    This is a great improvement on the previous system, which relied on invoices being checked manually and then being sent off for payment.
  • The use of Abacus has also enabled the Council to invoice people for the Transport Charge (£5 per day)
    This is when Service Users use external transport to attend services (e.g. taxis). Previously there was no system to collect this income so people received this transport for free. This has generated an additional £102K pa to date.

Providers have also seen a number of benefits and have provided the following feedback:

Malcolm Bonas – Calverton Supreme Day Centre
“We have been using Abacus since the system was installed over 12 months ago. It has helped to streamline our paperwork and reduced the time taken to process, track and record invoices considerably, eliminating associated stationery and postage, resulting in measurable cost, time and efficiency savings. Also, we receive payment in days, rather than weeks, so there is no longer a need to send individual invoices to different departments for authorising. Previously, we processed each individual transaction on another system, attached timesheets, produced two copies and sent about a dozen different envelopes off by snail mail – this is no longer the case as everything is carried out online. It has transformed the way we operate.”

Sophie Marshall – East Midland Cross Roads
“Abacus enables us to communicate efficiently with the Council regarding Daycentre Service Users. For example, if a purchase order is incorrect. Abacus is easy to use and ensures we are paid promptly for service delivery.”

Michael Tansley Thomas – Headway Nottingham
“It allows you to keep a track on the attendance patterns of your users to try and identify any areas for improvement for you and them.”
“It’s flexible in terms of its use and it is easy to manoeuvre through once a demonstration has been given.”
“It allows a practical approach in terms of billing for clients operationally allowing multiple allocated workers within the organisation to use the system, thus not dependant upon a sole individual.”
“It can also evidence the rise or fall in numbers of your clients attending your service.”
“It allows the organisation to plan through regular payments and ensure they can keep the service they provide at the very optimum it can be in terms of provision and activities.”

Future
This functionality has been further developed to enable providers to self-bill for all Non-Residential services in addition to service provided at day care centres. Electronic monitoring automatically suspends requests for payments that exceed the Service User’s care plan, eliminating the risk of overpayments.

If you would like to find out more about this functionality, please email bst@servelechsc.com or call 08448115081.

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