When people need support, they often turn to their local council. But understanding what are often complicated council services can be difficult, particularly when dealing with stressful changes and situations in our lives. For older residents in need of living support, ranging from a short stay in a nursing home to more permanent residential care, it’s essential people receive the correct support quickly.

Kent County Council’s financial assessment service helps residents determine how much financial support the council can contribute for arranging help at home, home adaptations or residential care. The cost depends on people’s income, with those who need it able to receive financial support from the council.

To make sure they start receiving care quickly, staff begin discussions around the financial assessment process with residents early and often. Yet due to different levels of experience evaluating care needs and finances, some practitioners lack confidence in discussing individual and complex cases. Residents also struggle, as financial jargon causes confusion about how the contributions work.

To make sure those in need across the borough receive the correct care they need, Kent wanted to improve processes for both residents and staff.

Tools for discussing financial assessments

For residents, understanding what needs to happen during a financial assessment, the possible costs of home and residential care and the ways the council can help is often a confusing and challenging conversation to have. To help staff explain the process and have better conversations with residents, we designed and tested a document with the most common questions they receive.

This guide helps staff have valuable conversations with residents about paying for care while feeling confident in their abilities to provide accurate and up to date information. Staff can set more realistic expectations on pricing, timelines and make sure residents are better prepared for the next steps in gaining financial support.

Based on the feedback we received from staff on this guidance, we also designed a digital version to provide residents with an overview of what they can access themselves via the council website.

Kent Financial Assessment Resident View

With accessibility challenges at the forefront of our priorities, we created this guide using simple terms, removing all traces of technical wording. This overview gives residents a basic understanding of how paying for care works in Kent, reducing anxiety and frustrations.

We also suggested methods for Kent to improve collaboration amongst teams by setting up shared communication channels and regular meetings between practitioners and financial assessment officers. This would give staff a designated place to ask questions when they’d like to improve their knowledge or respond to more complex cases.

Creating change in Kent

These new tools and ways of working will give staff greater confidence in their abilities to help residents with finance questions and concerns, seeing the value first hand in their roles and the change they can have in the lives of those needing urgent care.

Kent is continuing to focus on ways to develop staff understanding around evaluating care needs and finances by incorporating training into onboarding for new starters, continuing to iterate the conversation guide and encouraging communication amongst the workforce.

Giving residents more tailored support, accessible documents and a better understanding of financial processes will increase resident’s belief in council services. These new tools are expected to act as prevention, helping those seeking care to avoid debt as they’re clearer on individual finances and the council’s contributions.

Creating these changes in the tools will help residents feel confident that Kent will provide a helpful, valuable and pleasant experience during often vulnerable times in their lives.

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