Care Framework Agreements: An Expert Guide
What is a care framework?
Care framework agreements are a great way to establish your company in the care sector and build experience.
A care framework is usually one buyer seeking to establish a contract with multiple suppliers in the care sector. It’s common for tenders in the care sector to be large public sector contracts, and therefore part of a framework.
Many jobs in the care sector are temporary or fixed-term contracts which rely on the renewal of funding. When you secure a place on a framework, you can become an ‘approved supplier’ for the duration of the agreement. This can be anywhere from 2-10 years or more. Obviously, this is a great way to secure ongoing work.
Framework agreements are an effective way for SME’s and new businesses to build experience and work towards securing larger contracts. Buyers don’t always require as many credentials or as much turnover as if the contact was to be delivered by a single supplier. And, in the long run, this experience can continue to benefit your company even after the contract is over. Experience on a care framework proves you are reliable and able to work effectively within a larger project. This will bolster your company’s future tender responses and help you build experience.
So, care frameworks can be a valuable stepping-stone for smaller businesses. They’re certainly worth tendering for, if you have the credentials to back up your services.
What types of care framework agreements are available in 2020?
Care frameworks provide a wide variety of employment opportunities across the country. It’s hard to overstate the variety of work available. The care sector employs over 1.5 million people across 38,000 different organisations and support services. The adult social care sector alone contributes an estimated £43billion to the economy.
People often underestimate the breadth and scope of the care sector in comparison to healthcare. In fact, it’s a huge industry with lots of employment opportunities. It rivals the NHS as the biggest employer in the country. Much like healthcare, the social care sector is vital to society and a rewarding source of work.
Due to its size, there is a wide range of care frameworks in need of qualified, skilled service providers. Here are just a few of the settings your company may work in as part of a care framework:
- Care homes
- Private homes
- Probation centres
The work you undertake may fall into any of the following categories:
- residential care
- domiciliary care
- supporting living
- childcare and early years
- guidance and counselling
- social care
- child protection
- community work
- fostering and adoption
- occupational therapy
- art therapies
- youth and community work.
Who are the main employers for care frameworks in 2020?
Care framework agreements can stem from a range of buyers and employers. These include:
- The Nation Health Service (NHS) – e.g. hospitals, clinics, mental health trusts
- Local authorities – e.g. city councils, social services
- Charities – e.g. Age Concern, Barnardo’s
- Residential and non-residential care organisations
- Private organisations
- Educational facilities – e.g. schools, colleges and universities
- HM Prison and Probation Service.
Each of these lists is simply intended to showcase the diversity of the care sector. They are by no means exhaustive lists of examples. For such a large and ever-changing industry, it’s impossible to showcase all of the opportunities available in this blog!
For a more in-depth look at buyers and opportunities available, book a free live demo of Healthcare Tenders portal. When you sign up, our opportunity trackers will send all relevant tenders direct to your inbox. You’ll never miss a tender! Your subscription to Healthcare Tenders gives you:
- Unlimited access to the portal containing all active healthcare contracts in the UK.
- An easy way of searching by filtering the contracts according to budget, location and keywords (including such terms like, social care, supported living and mental health tenders).
- A daily bulletin sent straight to your inbox, containing all the new contract notices our Opportunity Trackers have found that day. These opportunities are sourced by real people – not CPV codes – so we can guarantee accuracy to your sector.
- A dedicated Account Manager who will deal with all queries relating to Healthcare Tenders or to tendering in general;
- A free 20-minute phone consultation with our bid writing experts from Hudson Succeed. They will answer your questions and provide advice and guidance related to your tendering journey.
What are the core issues within care frameworks in 2020?
The care sector has been one of the worse affected sectors during the coronavirus pandemic. Elderly and vulnerable people, who often depend on care workers, are at high-risk to severe COVID-19 symptoms. This has put extreme pressure on the care industry throughout 2020 – and shown how resilient of an industry it is!
Both residential and domiciliary care patients are severely affected by coronavirus. Between March and June 2020, 29.3% of all deaths of care home residents were linked to COVID-19. During the same period, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) also reported 6,523 deaths of recipients of domiciliary care. This was more than double the three-year average. Social care staff were also more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as other adults during the pandemic.
When tendering for care frameworks in 2020, consider how you can adapt your services to keep up to date. Can you demonstrate how you’ll keep staff and service users safe as the pandemic continues?
Here are two key factors you should focus on to improve your tenders for care frameworks.
Adapting your quality of care.
Quality of care is the single most important evaluation criterion for care frameworks. Unlike other industries, pricing is often less important than quality. If your services don’t meet the required qualities set out in the care framework, it’s not worth tendering for.
Most importantly, you must provide specific evidence to back up your quality of care. Demonstrate how your company aligns with the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) required standards, which include:
- Person-centred care
- Dignity and respect
- Safeguarding from abuse
- Food and drink
- Premises and equipment
- Good governance
- Fit and proper staff
- Duty of candour
- Display of ratings
Consider the issues coronavirus has caused within quality of care, including:
- Reduced staff availability (due to sickness)
- A lack of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Patients being discharged from hospital into the incorrect care setting that does not fully meet their needs. This was due to the need to free up hospital beds during the pandemic.
- Reduced, suspended or cancelled services. E.g. day centre closures and charities scaling back their services to ensure the safety of staff and service users.
Now more than ever within care frameworks, you must be able to tackle and overcome issues that arise, as they arise. Can your tender outline the ways in which you’ll overcome quality of care issues?
Care workers are adapting to and tackling these issues in inventive ways. For instance, the directors of adult social services (ADASS) produced an informative guide to care home infection control. The guide features case studies such as using motor homes for additional sleeping capacity for staff. Even simple solutions, such as using different coloured t-shirts to help staff work in new teams, have been effective.
Evidencing your social value.
Public sector contracts now put a stronger focus on the wider, positive impact that your business will provide whilst delivering a contract. If the tender is for work totalling over £180k, the buyer is legally obliged to ask about social value. Suppliers can demonstrate their social value in the form of:
- Policies and procedures;
- Community engagement;
Social value is especially important in care frameworks, due to the sensitive nature of the work. It’s also more likely that your work will benefit the wider community and improve the lives of local people. Can you demonstrate your community engagement?
Emphasising the social value of your service can be key in strengthening your tender and winning the contract. Avoid being vague when you demonstrate the social value of your work. For example, will you improve the local community by employing local staff and ensuring an environmentally friendly workspace? If so, showcase this with specific figures, dates, and tangible objective and targets.
Need support bidding for care frameworks?
It can be difficult to win a place on a care framework. Care work is a particularly sensitive and emotionally challenging industry. Regulation standards are therefore very high and care frameworks have particularly strict evaluation criteria.
You may feel your services are perfect for the requirements of a care framework but fail to secure the work. If this has happened to your company before, you’re not alone. Losing a bid to a supplier with experience that is more specific or niche than yours? That’s a common occurrence due to the stringent criteria of care frameworks.
Our team of bid writers at Hudson Succeed can help you craft care framework tender responses that hit the mark. We can present your company in the best light possible to increase your chances of winning great opportunities. Or, if you’re new to tendering, we can guide you through the NHS tendering process, offering support at each stage.
If you need support to find tendering opportunities, our Healthcare Tenders portal can help. We will make sure you don’t miss out on any current care frameworks that are out to tender.
Below are previous care frameworks sourced on our portal:
WCC – Warwickshire Care at Home Services Lot 1 Spot Purchase – 2
Coventry – Solihull – Warwickshire- West Midlands- Budget: £450,000
Dec 2020 Re-Opening – Gloucestershire Health and Social Care Pseudo-Framework 2020-2024
Gloucestershire County Council- South West- Budget: Undisclosed
Live at Home Framework
Essex County Council- South East- Budget: £400,000,000
Care at Home: Homecare and Reablement Flexible Framework
The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames- London- Budget: £57,412,490
Domiciliary Care Framework
London Borough of Bromley- London- Budget: Undisclosed
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