Partnership agreement will deliver improved alarm monitoring and out of hours service

Sign on a building with the SB Cares logo

Published: Friday, 1st December 2017

It has been agreed that the alarm monitoring and remote response function of SB Cares’ BorderCare Alarm service will be delivered in partnership with East Lothian Council.

The change is planned to take place from 1 April 2018 and will create a tri-authority centre of excellence encompassing East Lothian, Midlothian and SBC. It will also enable:

  • SB Cares to deliver an enhanced quality of service to its alarm monitoring clients
  • the Council to access a robust and reliable out of hours service.

Review of BorderCare service has been carried out

The move to an alternative delivery model follows a detailed review of the BorderCare service, which has been operational in its current form since 1987. As the review established that significant investment would be required to upgrade out of date monitoring software and meet the expected industry quality standards, an options appraisal was undertaken to establish the most effective and efficient way of continuing to provide the service.

SB Cares’ recommended option to enter into a partnership agreement with East Lothian Council was approved by SBC on the basis that it would provide a number of significant quality, developmental and financial advantages which would be of benefit to all clients using the service.

Benefits of the East Lothian partnership

Benefits of entering into partnership with East Lothian Council include:

  • they have an established partnership model which has been providing Midlothian Council’s monitoring services successfully since 2009
  • they are considered experts in this field with a proven track record of innovation and quality
  • they share a similar public service ethos to SBC
  • they have recently invested in a new call monitoring software that places them in a strong position to achieve full telecare industry accreditation in the next 12 months, which would not have been possible within the current service infrastructure at BorderCare
  • SB Cares’ BorderCare clients will see an improvement in the quality and resilience of their alarm monitoring service as well as being in a much better position to benefit from telecare innovations.

There will be no change to the technical alarm installation and support service and SB Cares will remain responsible for the overall BorderCare service to clients in the Scottish Borders.

All client fees and charges will continue to be set by SBC and the new arrangements will not result in any changes to these fees. Any increased return received from the service as a result of the financial savings made from the service transfer will returned to the Council for reinvestment as is the case currently.

Councillor Tom Weatherston, Executive Member for Adult Services

“Having considered all the options for future-proofing this service, I am convinced that this is the most effective way forward, both for Borders residents who rely on this important service and the Council itself. It was clear that the costs of bringing the existing service up to industry standard were not viable, particularly when compared to the skilled and innovative alternative being offered to us by East Lothian and I welcome the decision taken today that means we can move toward working in partnership with them, with all the benefits that this will bring.”

Support for affected staff

Following the Council agreement to the proposal, work has now begun to make sure affected staff are properly supported through the process which will be carried out over the next few months. A number of options are being offered to them including:

  • the commitment to transfer to the new service under their existing terms and conditions
  • the offer of deployment to another post within SB Cares or the Council
  • an invitation to apply for early retirement or voluntary severance.

SB Cares’ Managing Director, Philip Barr

“The decision to move to an alternative service delivery model with the potential impact that this has on staff is never easy. The timing of communicating these decisions can also be difficult. However, we have now been able to speak to all affected staff in detail, explaining the reasons why it was necessary for us to make this decision and reassuring them of our commitment to supporting them with the range of options that are available in terms of their future employment.

“We would also like to reassure all our clients that this move will result in us being able to make substantial improvements in the quality of service that we provide. Midlothian Council has given us excellent feedback on the provision that their clients receive through a similar arrangement and we are committed to making sure that Borders residents have access to the same benefits. We will be writing to our clients to inform them of this change and how it will benefit them.”

Next steps

Discussions will now commence with East Lothian Council on the detailed planning of the transition to the partnership arrangement to ensure that there is a smooth transition for the service by 1 April 2018.