3SC and Touchstone – The Role of Contract Management in Supporting Providers
Touchstone started life in 1982 as a housing provider and has grown in West Yorkshire and more recently South Yorkshire. Touchstone works alongside people and communities to support positive mental health and wellbeing, reaching over 4000 people each year. They are nationally recognised for their support of all diverse groups, especially Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. The services Touchstone offer varies including mental health, family relationships, substance misuse, well-being, mentoring, peer support and employment. In criminal justice, Touchstone’s Shafa project offers culturally competent support, including group and 1:1 work, depending on the offence.
Touchstone were contracted in November 2015 to deliver a specialist service to BAME Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) and National Probation Service (NPS) service users across West Yorkshire for three years.
In November 2018, their contract was reviewed, revised and extended for a further two years and as part of 3SC’s contract management it became apparent after the first quarter of the contract commencement that Touchstone did not appear to be meeting the performance measures set out in the contract. As part of 3SC’s remit there was an opportunity to explore the reasons for this at the monthly contract performance assessment meetings with a view to identifying any areas for improvement required by Touchstone and the CRC, and to look at where 3SC could offer guidance and support.
Touchstone has a good reputation within the CRC and NPS. The referrals were healthy, the quality deep dives completed by 3SC showed that the work being delivered was of an excellent quality and engagement from service users was good. However, positive completion and outcome data did not support this.
Upon further investigations 3SC identified that the area of development was accurate recording of data as Touchstone’s access to a management information system had been removed. Data was recorded sporadically and there was no one place where all the data was captured consistently by staff to document service user referrals, start dates, engagement and positive completions and outcomes. Touchstone were completing the work, but could not show they were doing so, which was impacting on their KPI performance. 3SC’s Contract Performance Manager discussed this with Touchstone and they agreed that the recording of data could be vastly improved.
3SC developed a spreadsheet for Touchstone so their staff could record and collate the required data. The spreadsheet was designed so it would not be too resource intense on the provider to complete but would allow them to record, collate and filter the data required to evidence the excellent work they were delivering accurately. 3SC dedicated time with Touchstone to support them to backdate the spreadsheet for all service users they had supported since the start of the revised contract so they had a full set of data. 3SC also trained all of Touchstone’s staff on how to utilise the spreadsheet to extract data using filters etc.
Once all the data had been inputted into the spreadsheet 3SC completed a data reconciliation exercise. The outcome of this was that Touchstone’s performance data for their first year of delivery saw a significant improvement on what had previously been reported. The revised data showed that over a 12-month period Touchstone have worked with 238 service users of which 109 service users have achieved a positive outcome by showing improvement on the outcome star.
Touchstone now use the spreadsheet to extract information for their monthly contract performance assessment meetings with 3SC, confident in the knowledge that the data reported is accurate, whilst not being a cumbersome task to complete.
In addition, Touchstone have been able to use the data to support a proposal for additional NPS funding to support the existing contract, due to the data evidencing an increased need for support for those service users. Whilst completing the reconciliation exercise 3SC advised the provider of the benefits of moving from paper files to electronic files. The provider has taken this on board and 3SC is now supporting them to set up electronic files for all new service users.
“we have felt supported by 3SC throughout. It has been a strong partnership, with practical guidance in setting up a database to ensure a more consistent and robust approach to measuring performance and outcomes”.
Helen Laycock, Contract Performance Manager, 3SC