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Employee Assistance Programme

Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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Market Context

Supported Living schemes are for adults with learning disabilities and/or autism, and physical and/or sensory impairments. The service provides adults with the chance to hold a tenancy in their own home and focuses on increasing each individual’s independence and skills over a period of time, thereby reducing the need for paid and unpaid carer support.

The schemes can be either a group of single occupancy units clustered together (normally no more than 14) or a scheme for tenants who live in a shared house or bungalow (normally up to 4 residents). Within these schemes there is usually shared or 'core' support provided. All properties are tenancy based, with   no direct link between the adult’s tenancy and the provision of care from a specific provider.

This service is primarily commissioned via the Supported Living Framework which was procured in March 2021. At the time of writing there are 137 providers who have secured a place on the framework. We are now working towards the replacement framework from March 2025.

The focus of the market at present is to continue to grow to meet demand within Essex. As with residential services there are needs at the complex end of the spectrum too, and specialist services are sought for adults with challenging behaviour. There are a lack of services in some parts of the county which leads to adults being moved further away from families and communities which we are seeking to address in future development.

Market Rating

The quality of the market is good, and the Supported Living Framework imposes requirements that we can only place with those rated Good or Outstanding by the CQC, or who have been through a robust improvement plan. Supply is strong on the framework, but there remains demand for further developments to meet specific need. Demand is consistent and crosses the whole spectrum of needs right up to very complex adults; development needs to be spread out in Essex to cover other areas and to avoid an ongoing proliferation of services in the North East of the county. Workforce remains a challenge for all providers but is more acute in some areas where we have an abundance of care services or direct routes to London.

Market Quality Market Supply ECC Demand
Good Moderate/Good Stable
ECC Ambition Market Workforce Market Maturity
Manage Supply Low Mature

ECC rating of the market, assessed on 31st March 2024.

There is capacity in the market with a number of vacancies, however not all of these vacancies will be suitable for adults seeking accommodation and matching and compatibility will always be a big driver for demand management. Some vacancies may also be present in services that are not onboarded or are unlikely to be onboarded which presents a risk to these schemes in the immediate future.

There are shortages of some categories of support, especially for complex provision and for those who require their own individual living space. There are several providers who are currently looking to expand and develop new services, and property developers are showing interest in setting up schemes within Essex. Processes for ensuring quality of housing stock and care provision are now implemented and embedded.

The Supported Living Framework has 137 providers and there is an ongoing flow of providers approaching us about development  of services.  Exits from the market are rare and typically linked to strategic decisions from providers rather than services being unviable.

Essex Market  
No. of Schemes N/A
No. of Units N/A
No. of Landlords N/A
No. of Care Providers N/A
Quality of Care Providers (rated as Good or Outstanding by the CQC) N/A
New Entrants N/A
Market Exits N/A

(Note: There is no data available that gives us oversight of the whole market in Essex)

Essex ASC Market (ECC Funded)  
Spend Awaiting data
No. Schemes – Framework 636
No. Schemes – Spot 17
No. Units – Framework 1,842
No. Units – Spot 58
No Landlords 128
No. Care Providers 93
No. Adults supported 1,356
Utilisation % 76%
Average Contracted Rate per hour £19.04
Average Spot Rate per hour £19.39
Average Cost per week £1,554
% ECC funded placements CQC rated Good or Outstanding 80%

The information shown in the table(s) above is correct as of 31st March 2024.

We require more provision for growing numbers of complex individuals needing accommodation. Key drivers of demand are through transitions from younger people services into adult settings, and Transforming Care pathways. At the other end of the spectrum we also need to improve the rate at which individuals are enabled to independence and into general needs housing with or without support. The move-on teams within social care are now supporting this process but we need providers to continue to promote achievement of outcomes and develop independent skills for adults they support.

We need to improve our offer for older people with learning disabilities (55+), who make up an increasing percentage of the individuals supported and are the majority of the caseload of some of our largest providers. The Ageing Well programme has been rolled out in the past 2 years but further uptake of the training and toolkits needs to be driven with our provider market.

Development of new services has continued at a steady pace but viable services for adults coming through Transforming Care pathways presents a problem, and options are limited for these adults due to the specialist needs they have.

The current COVID impact highlighted is:

  • Staffing remains a challenge in many areas but this is less prone to the variability seen during the pandemic because all industries have returned to operation at full capacity. Competition is driven by wages.
  • Demand for services has remained consistent and is at pre-pandemic levels.

Current market risks:

  • Development of schemes tends to be focused in areas where land and property is cheaper, leading to potential disconnect between local need and availability.
  • Staffing remains a challenge to providers and a potential blocker to development, or in some cases making use of existing stock.
  • Portions of the housing stock in Essex which currently house adults and operates as supported living does not comply with the current Accommodation Standards and in some cases may not be able to in future. This poses the risk that services may become unstable if adults move out and are not replaced with new referrals, leading to closure and move-on activity over and above the norm.
  • High levels of inflation and National Living Wage rises over the past few years means the costs to the providers to operate have increased.

Our current area of focus is:

  • Development of a new framework from March 2025 to build on the success of the current framework.
  • Steer and focus development of new schemes according to need across the county to enable appropriate growth of provision that will meet needs.
  • Value and Efficiency: ensuring sustainable rates for providers delivering the services.
  • Choice and Control: maintain sufficient variety within the market that individuals have sufficient choice of provision.
  • Drive progression and achievement of outcomes: ensure outcomes are being identified and that providers are delivering outcomes identified for individuals.
Last updated: 31/03/2024