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Book your Own Breaks

Summary

Description

Operational Information

Evaluation

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Summary

The locally run Book Your Own Breaks service was launched in May 2010. It is a secure marketplace for informal carers to book formal care support themselves rather than by phone although those who still want to do this can. The aim of the service is to provide a simple, innovative way of giving carers choice, flexibility and control in choosing breaks. Target users are informal and formal carers as well as cared for people. In addition it offers a service to care organisations which allows them to recruit staff at short notice , and gives informal carers access to social care and respite allowing them and the people they care for to book professional carers at predetermined times online in a flexible manner. This allows them to tailor their care packages easily, remain in control of their budgets for purchasing breaks, and develop good relations and communications with formal caring staff. Users need a personal computer and internet connection.

The service was set up thanks to half a million pounds from the Community and Local Government and users pay a small fee, according to when they book it. The service is fully integrated into the care system and today different organizations participate in it: Public Authorities, Private Companies, Voluntary and Charities. Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North and Crossroads Care Hertfordshire South have teamed up with Hertfordshire County Council and social enterprise to work with the Department of Health to give informal carers more control and flexibility in the types of breaks on offer. It is sustained by both the public and private care sector.

The service is provided by trained health and social care professionals as well as volunteers from the 2 voluntary associations.. In 2011 there were about 252 users and 144 volunteers. Promotionally it focuses on the rapidity, reliability and effectiveness of the support and also uses training videos.

Funding is mixed with some users paying for themselves, , others pay a small fee depending on the booking time while others are funded via a council allowance for respite services and the provider then bills the council.

It is a personalised service to the benefit of the informal carers who feel more free to balance between caring and private life in terms of peace of mind. If they have to attend meetings or socialise, the cared for person is cared for, is safe and does not put a strain on finances as they are able to use the Carer’s Break grant. In addition, informal carers are able to flexibly book a carer at a time that is convenient to them and are thus able to use their time more effectively. 99% of the time they are able to book the same formal carer allowing for consistency and the building up of trust and rapport which is important for both the informal carer and the person who is cared for.

Benefits at the meso and macro-levels can be found in the reduced absence of the informal carer from work , and the savings that the professional carers who are booked help the health and care system achieve.

The service has a national coverage and, as it is effective, flexible and user friendly, it could be easily potentially exported to other countries.

Description
refers to the target users, kind of service provided, ICTs typologies and devices used

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Book your Own Breaks
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UK
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2005
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The service aims is to enable informal carers to book formal carers services for their specific requirements. In order to do this its purposes are to:

  • Provide an immediate overview of the formal carers available to book.

  • Provide information about bookings that have been made.

  • Link in with other initiatives and to better inform formal carers on other organisations that can help them.

  • Explore the potential to be self-financing over two years.

  • Develop a follow on plan for further expansion.
     

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The service was born in 2005 on the basis of half a million pounds of government money from the Community and Local Government as an e-market place to allow private care organizations to recruit staff in a quickly and then it was adapted to other purposes, including social care and respite provision.

 

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Yes Care Recipients
No Informal carers
No Paid assistants
Yes Formal carers

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Not available

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Yes Independent Living
No Information and learning for carers
Yes Personal Support and Social Integration for carer
Yes Care coordination

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The service allows online booking for formal carers, tailored care packages, control of caring budgets for purchasing breaks, independent living of the elderly, support to those who are cared for and also to the informal carers.

The website offers: useful FAQ section.

The organization provides help sheets and telephone support to help carers using the service.

It offers also information and support for children informal carers.

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Personal Computer and Internet connection.

Operational Information
refers to the type of funding, budget, sustainability and organisations involved

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Both public and private
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Public service funding: Government, Regional, Local Authorities, non-profit public entities
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Not available

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Private out of pocket: users pay the service by themselves
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Not available

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The service provider is not a company but a voluntary association.

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According to the service strategies the sustainability relies on the fact that there are differences among users: some are self-funders and pay a small fee for the service according to when it is booked (immediately is more expensive). Some others are funded through Crossroads, a council allowance for respite services which informal carers spend via the service and Crossroads then bills the council. Since April 2011 when there was no more funding from the Community and the Local Governament, the organization has attracted local authority funding. In addition BYOB is on the map of the UK’s personalized agenda and despite the many challenges in offering choice and control to informal carers, the service is helpful. The provider is always trying to attract news organizations to increase its profile and funding as the government is keen on using technology to support carers.

Lastly the service is fully integrated into the care system and has reached an operational maturity, so that the possibilities in terms of new public funds are good.

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€ More than 500,000
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Not available

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Yes Authorities
Yes Private Care Sector
Yes Health and Social Care Systems
Yes Third Sector
Yes Private Companies

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Not available

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Voluntary sector organisation Crossroads runs the service and traditionally deals with older people, particularly those suffering frailty or dementia illnesses, and many clients are informal carers of elderly.
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No Informal Carers
Yes Health Professionals
Yes Social Care Professionals
No Privately-Hired Care Assistants (inc. Migrant Care Workers)
Yes Volunteers

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Formal carers provide personal care, are vetted, trained to a high standard, supervised and employed by Crossroads Care. Most breaks are funded by council carers' grants so Crossroads Care professionals deal with the finances too, relieving carers of another pressure. Professionals also provide help sheets and telephone based support to help informal carers with using the service.

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Two voluntary associations Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North and Crossroads Care Hertfordshire South are within the service and their volunteers are the informal carers chosen for caring. In 2011 (most recent available data) volunteers amounted to 144.

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Not available

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The promotion strategy relies on the possibility for informal carers to dip into the service on an ad hoc basis when they need, rather than using it regularly and this is why the concept works well.

On the website there is a promotional as well as a training video demonstration about how to use the system. It is addressed to either formal or informal carers.

Another strategy is to expand the service with other bodies within the local authority looking to adopt it and Crossroads is trying to persuade other country organizations to adopt the system.

Evaluation
refers to the impact of the service on end-users, care organisations and authorities

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The service may  positively impact on the quality of life of:

  • Informal carers and paid assistants because it provides moments of respite, reconciles care and work, improves their social life and health
  • Elderly people because they feel reassured and are promptly cared for by formal professional carers who are booked in advance.

Another benefit is the increased acceptability of the ICT to the people who are cared for and the informal carers who are supported and can be more independent.

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The service could provide benefits to private care organisations and the labour market because it helps informal carers reconcile paid work and caring tasks avoiding the added costs for replacing workers who have to stay away from work. The informal carer is assured and relieved as there is a formal booked carer to share the caring task with.

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The service could provide benefits to the public authorities, NHS and social care services because it helps to save on the costs of home caring and hospitalisation and it is effective in training informal carers and qualifying formal carers. It also optimises financial and human resources as the formal carers who are booked are well-trained professionals. As a result Health and Social Care services have fewer elderly people to care for.

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Strengths:

  1. Formal carers staff are well-trained and of high standard, the system is user friendly and suits quickly different requirements.
  2. Users can self-manage without employing someone. Users have a login and can look for available formal carers. Once chosen, a text and email is automatically sent to the selected formal carer. If they accept, the booking is instantly confirmed.
  3. The response time is quick, it cuts down on the need for paperwork and there is a record of all the provided care and if there is a problem there is always someone.
  4. There is peace of mind for the informal carer, who is free to socialise or work. Reassured and safe that there is no need to put a strain on finances as there is the Carers break grant. More importantly, the service allows the informal carer flexibility to book a formal professional carer at a convenient time.
  5. More freedom for informal carers to use time more effectively, as they are always able to book the same formal carer allowing for consistency and the building up oftrust and rapport for the both carer and the person who is cared for..
  6. Informal carers can have breaks booking someone they trust to look after the elderly in their care so that they can maintain their independence and stay in control.
  7. The cared-for person is offered person-centred care and formal carers have flexible working and quality time with the cared-for person.

Weaknesses:

  1. To increase the service scalability and transferability an early analysis of local geography would have helped the organisation consider which informal carers would best be suited to which volunteer informal carer.
  2. Informal carers should have been consulted at an early stage to understand what they wanted. Marketing and communications could have been worked better to raise awareness of the service, though it was important not to oversell the product and annoy carers.
  3. At the moment the access to the website www.bookyourownbreaks.com is unavailable.

Opportunities:

  1. Given the success of the provider there are good possibilities to increase the useful services offered.
  2. The service could offer major chances for choice and control for the informal carers in the UK’s personalization agenda.
  3. There is also a lot of informal feedback to produce case studies and evaluate the service
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Even if the service still has a regional coverage it could potentially be enlarged to a broader territory and be fully integrated into the care system. It is highly specialized, flexible, user friendly and appreciated.

In the early stages it was difficult to get informal carers to adapt to the online booking service as they were naturally reticent about technology. However, this has been overcome by training. Another problem was that Crossroads already had another telephone booking system which had some difficulties in running each alongside this one. However, this has been resolved.

The service has been expanding, with other organizations within the local authority looking to adopt it and Crossroads is trying to persuade other organizations across the country to adopt it. Planned developments for increasing the scalability and transferability are being made according to fixed and regular update mechanisms to monitor the numbers of carers using the system.

More Information
includes contacts, publications and accompanying documents

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http://www.bookyourownbreaks.com/ (unavailable at the moment)

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