Kingston Council to pilot app to improve care service commissioning

London Borough of Kingston is co-developing a digital tool with the Local Government Information Unit for more ‘honest’ reporting on individuals’ care needs

CoCare allows home care professionals to update information on individuals’ general wellbeing, social needs and health conditions online Credit: Gareth Williams

Kingston Council will launch an app early next year allowing councils to commission care based more accurately on people’s needs, to save organisations time and money and enable better decision making.

CoCare, developed with think tank the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU), will allow care professionals to gather more up-to-date – and therefore more accurate – information on the condition of people who receive care at home, so that councils pay only for care that needs to be delivered.

LGIU describes it as ‘a platform that gives you honest data about the quality of care.’


“Where electronic monitoring and apps are largely designed for the provider community, our app is designed for councils first and the care network second,” said LGIU’s Service Innovation Lead Ingrid Koehler. “It’s the first one trying to break the [current] way of commissioning. It’s prime purpose is to improve the way councils buy care. The current system has little room for flexibility because you’re just buying hours,” Koehler said.

She said although care services make up a “substantial portion” of council budgets, councils are required to re-assess care needs just once a year. If improvements or a decline in the person’s condition are not recorded during the year, care plans do not accurately reflect needs.

CoCare allows home care professionals such as physiotherapists and district nurses to update information on individuals’ general wellbeing, social needs and health conditions online. The app asks them to respond to simple questions about how the person seems since the last visit, for example, in their ability to dress themselves.

This information is collected and displayed on a dashboard, providing councils with insightful, real-time data on care outcomes and a more accurate picture of a person’s care needs. This also aims to counter the problem of knowledge gaps created by incomplete re-assessment data and by any lack of continuity between healthcare providers, said Koehler.

“With CoCare you’ll be able to see years’ worth of data. It cuts down on time – you’re not coming in cold to a re-assessment,” she said.

A pilot begins in September, ahead of plans to launch the app in early 2018. The project team will try to recruit more councils to join the programme prior to launch.

“We shopped around for a council to do it with who would take a service design approach. Kingston fitted the bill. We’ve done the stakeholder and user research and now we’re actively coding,” said Koehler.

Kingston Council and the LGIU are working with companies Tackle and Cubicus to develop the CoCare.


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