Care & Support Needs Assessment – On Demand Support Centre

A call centre equipped with ‘on demand’ care needs assessors who will complete care needs assessments and annual reviews, providing shared resource efficiencies to local authorities.


We propose to deliver a shared resource, on-demand call centre pilot offering local authorities extended assessor capacity to process Care and Support assessments and annual reviews. The call centre will be equipped with telephone or video calling software and staffed with appropriately qualified individuals with care assessment experience, using Looking Local’s BetterCare Support product to underpin the conversation for consistent strength-based suggestions.

The service will reduce the need for individuals to visit their council or for practitioners to make home visits, providing an efficient way to deliver care and support assessments, driving value for money and offering local authorities a cost-effective way to reduce backlogs.

Initial modelling by Reed in Partnership is based on a call centre team employing qualified Care Needs Assessors and a Social Worker Manager, who can carry out up to 3,900 assessments, across a 12 month contract period. However, the model is designed to be flexible to meet – as far as possible – individual council and service user need. An alternate, more person-centred approach would be to conduct fewer assessments to allow time for the assessors to engage with the service user’s care support network. This would allow care needs to be pre-validated ahead of completing the assessment itself, helping to avoid all re-assessments being conducted on a face-to-face basis, again freeing up limited council resources.

With between three and five councils investing in the pilot, this equates to up to 780 assessments per council, a potential saving of between £282,740 – £428,600 per council based on typical assessment and re-assessment costs. Further economies of scale could be achieved if demand enables the pilot to be scaled up. The approach is scalable based on local authority demand, with a larger team offering cost benefits to initial investors in the pilot.

The aim is to prove that assessments and reviews can be safely and effectively outsourced, and this pilot project will track the benefits and business case for doing so. We intend to work closely with council teams to ensure the outsourced model dovetails with current processes, and throughout the project appropriate consideration will be given to safeguarding, risk and fraud to deliver assessments on which the council can rely.


The Government’s recent announcement to postpone the charging reforms for 2 years has simplified the short-term picture in the adult social care (ASC) space. However, staff recruitment and retention challenges remain underfunded and unresolved, despite the increased funding (up to £2.8 billion) the sector will receive over the next financial year. The backlog of Care & Support Assessments continues to rise. Nearly half a million people are waiting for an assessment, care and support, direct payments to begin, or for a review of their care needs.

Since November 2021, the number of people waiting for an assessment has increased by 20% from 204,241 people to 245,821 in August 2022. People waiting for more than six months have doubled since November 2021, (Source: ADASS 11/2022.) Local Authorities are struggling to keep up with the current demand and vulnerable people are at risk of deteriorating further as waiting times continue to increase.

A key driver of this project is that in 2022 Looking Local – working with a number of councils collaborating on a digital approach to Care & Support Assessments (BetterCare Support) – established that the typical cost of carrying out face-to-face care and support assessment was £620 per assessment and £433 per review. This project aims to greatly reduce this individual cost, speed up the time taken and support councils with their backlogs, without compromising assessment quality.

Based on £620 cost identified in consultation with a number of councils  in 2022. Kirklees Council undertook a similar exercise in 2017 that identified a Care & Support Assessment cost of £650 per assessment


The project will offer investing councils the opportunity to co-design a robust process and outsource c780 assessments from their current backlog of new assessments and annual reviews. 

The project will run across three distinct phases:


  • Workshop to outline approach
  • Introduce BetterCare Support
  • Co-design of agreed pathways for the ‘on-demand’ service
  • Map the processes to integrate the new service
  • Define the required change management activities
  • Identify appropriate systems customisation to each local authority


  • Deploying a version of the BetterCare Support platform for each partner for Reed staff to access
  • Test and refine processes and pathways
  • Process & platform sign off


  • Go live
  • Ongoing delivery of Care & Support Assessments/Reviews
  • Monthly reviews and process refinement

Reed in Partnership will build a new care assessment call centre team based alongside their existing call centre teams in Liverpool City centre. The new team will have access to Reed in Partnership’s ACD (automatic call distribution) phone system, which will be tailored to reflect individual council requirements identified in the Discovery Phase. This includes having the option to offer video call support if appropriate.

A team of qualified or part-qualified Care Needs Assessors, the minimum number required to provide a consistent service throughout the Delivery phase, will utilise BetterCare Support to inform the care needs assessments and, if deemed appropriate in the Discovery phase, capture and report data to the individual partner councils. Assessment quality, reporting and team performance will be managed by a dedicated, qualified Social Care Needs Assessment Manager.


  • Add capacity to your team without the overheads
  • Gain a positive impact on your backlog 
  • Reduce the queries on the front door 
  • Getting closer to the goal – 100% Annual reviews 
  • Work with other like-minded, forward thinking, local authorities to co-design a unique, assessor-led service, underpinned by a bespoke, council co-designed digital solution 
  • Share the risk and costs of testing new ways of working 
  • Develop new models of working to support the transformation of Adult Social Care
  • Reduce stress on the current assessment process and your workforce
  • Improve relationships with service users

Following the pilot phase, each co-funder will receive a discount of between 10% and 20% on the unit cost per Care & Support Needs Assessment delivered by the resulting product – equating to a potential saving of at least £12,000, based on the proposed pilot volumes per council alone.


We are seeking 3-5 local authority partners each to invest £55,000 (+VAT).

Total project funds: £165,000-275,000

A subject matter expert from each local authority will be required to participate in information gathering workshops. Total time commitment is expected to be max 8 hours per month for the first three months, with ongoing regular review meetings following go live.

Additionally, we will need some legal and information governance expertise from each partner in the first month.

As with all projects that go through the CC2i collaboration process, the resulting business model for the ‘on-demand’ service will be determined with the participating councils to ensure the resulting solution is affordable, sustainable and scalable. 

Projected savings: £282,740-£428,600 per council

Working on the typical cost of carrying out face-to-face care and support assessment of £620 per assessment, this would see each council benefit from a saving of £428,600. Naturally this will be further investigated in the project, and it may be that some councils are keen to focus on reviews, rather than new assessments – in which case that would mean a saving of circa £282,740. In both cases the estimated savings are significant for the councils involved. 


Established in 1998, Reed in Partnership’s mission is to positively transform people and communities. We support individuals, their families and the places where they live to prosper, often under challenging circumstances. Through the five divisions of our business – Reed Wellbeing, Reed Citizen Services, Reed Assessment, Reed Employability and Reed Environment – we deliver over 40 publicly-funded services, supporting over 2.4 million people per year. We pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service, putting the needs of our service users as the heart of our service design. 

Through our work in supporting Integrated Health programmes and the Healthier You National Diabetes Prevention Programme, Reed in Partnership already employs call centre teams who are fully screened and trained, and who demonstrate empathy with callers and ensure compliance with commissioner contractual requirements. The approach will be enhanced through the employment of a team qualified Care Needs Assessors led by a qualified Social Worker/ Manager. The team will work as an ‘extension’ to each council’s own teams, offering a remote care and support assessment service that frees up locally based council resources whilst at the same time ensuring service quality and efficiency both through the use of BetterCare Support and through effective caseload management.

BetterCare Support was co-designed by six councils (Coventry, Dorset, Lincolnshire, Medway, Oxfordshire and Solihull) and developed by Looking Local in 2021, to address the need for a digital approach to care and support assessments within Adult Social Care (ASC). BetterCare Support uses 40+ animations to guide a service user through a self-assessment of their care and support needs and generates a reliable, reflective assessment.


Current plans are to try to bring this collaboration together during the Autumn, with an anticipated start date of January 2024. However the exact dates will be determined by how quickly partners can confirm their involvement and availability.

The complete programme of work will run for a full calendar year starting at the Project Initiation Workshop. Once the Discovery & Design phases are complete the ‘Live service’ will run for the remainder of that year.

Reed in Partnership has already invited expressions of interest from suitably qualified individuals interested in joining the Care Needs Assessment Team. This will reduce the set-up time for the team to around 8 weeks, subject to Disclosure and barring service checks. Property and systems infrastructure for the Care Needs Assessment Team are already in place.