Modernising Commissioning at Southwark LBC

Modernising Commissioning at Southwark LBC

(March 2012)

The brief from Southwark:

Back in 2010 Southwark was aware that its approach to commissioning was not fully consistent with the personalisation agenda. It therefore decided to seek external support to work in partnership with its own staff to modernise commissioning so it would become fit for personalisation.

Alder’s Response:

Two advisers (Simon Palmour and Ellen Law) each worked on a part time basis over a four month period in partnership with the Commissioning team and in collaboration with other external advisors Southwark were working with at the time. At the same time Dan Short worked in the background on data analysis and on the development of tools designed to help the staff on the ground better evaluate the current situation and plan for the future.

Alder’s work also included being involved in the “staff” and “provider” consultation processes. These were particularly important as everyone agreed that future success was dependent on gaining system wide ownership of the changes necessary to embed personalisation in everything Southwark and the support providers in its local market do.


Alder delivered a transition strategy for commissioning to guide the change process. It was supported by:
• A comparison of current commissioning practices with best commissioning practice, giving the mandate for change.

• An assessment of the ability of the current market for care and support to deliver personalised support.

• A summary of the key enablers of personalisation that the transition strategy needed to address.

• A “S.M.A.R.T” action plan detailing how to deliver the necessary improvements.

• A tool to guide, record and score the assessment of Southwark’s existing adult social care strategy documents (The tool was spread sheet based)

• A tool to guide, record and score the assessment of existing service providers (The tool was spread sheet based).

• A summary of case studies about individual service users that powerfully demonstrated the need for change.

Commenting on the work by Alder Jonathan Lillistone (Head of Commissioning – Health and Community Services, at Southwark LBC) said:

“The work Alder Advice delivered for Southwark helped created a new approach to engaging with providers and stakeholders across the Council. It has helped foster a more joined up approach through closer working with colleagues in care management. Commissioners made use of some of the tools devised to analyse particular service areas, identifying key priorities for change and how a burning platform for transformation and change could be created without destabilising the local market for social care services.

Since the work with Alder significant progress has been made by the Council to move away from block contracting for social care services. This has included:

• establishing a nationally recognised ISF (Individual Service Fund) approach to residential and supported living services for people with learning disabilities, 

• establishing a personalised approach to voluntary sector day services for older people older peoples day services where older people purchase day centre sessions from their personal budget, and

• work is now well underway to personalise day opportunities for people with learning disabilities.”