It has been ten years since Wokingham Borough Council set up its adult social care company Optalis.
At the time it was seen as an innovative approach by the council to provide care and support to its local communities. And this continues to this day as Optalis is one of a few, but growing number of local authority trading companies in the country. The company is now jointly owned by Wokingham Borough Council and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and it provides adult social care services with and on behalf of both councils.
Wokingham Borough Council has an ambitious transformation project to improve the quality of social care services and improve outcomes for its residents, while ensuring its services offer value for money. Offering value for money is not just about making services financially viable but its also about providing customers with the best possible services.
Vision to grow and develop services together
The borough council’s vision is to grow the portfolio of services that Optalis offer its residents and is developing a range of services with them.
Wokingham Borough Council will be developing, with Optalis, additional specialist accommodation for 39 vulnerable residents. The council will also be working with Optalis to design and implement a nursing strategy which includes building a new dementia nursing home by 2023.
There are number of benefits of a local authority trading company. As a local provider, Optalis has local knowledge and is in touch with the local community’s expectations and needs. As it is 100 per cent council owned, it means that any financial surplus that is generated is returned to council shareholders to invest back into local services.
Wokingham Borough Council works closely with Optalis to respond to new and changing demands for care and support services in the local area. Services are provided by passionate and skilled staff.
Optalis is different from other care providers in the borough, because it is council-owned. Optalis does not only deliver services to local taxpayers and residents, but it is directly accountable to them too. This means that the council and Optalis are working together all the time to ensure the needs of local people are being met in a way that suits them best, as well as providing good value for money.
Cllr Charles Margetts, executive member for adult services and public health, said: “Our relationship with Optalis is evolving. We see Optalis as an extension to the borough council, and we’re working collaboratively to bring positive change to the borough’s residents.
“We are encouraging Optalis to be innovative and we support them in doing things differently and doing new things in response to customer feedback. They deliver flexible and adaptable services which are aligned to our vision, and strategy and we want Optalis to be the provider of choice.”
David Birch, Optalis chief executive officer, added: “Our tenth anniversary has been an opportunity to reflect both on the past and the future of Optalis. Here we are ten years on, still providing vital support to our community and still listening to our colleagues and customers about what really matters. Our future is an exciting one, with both our shareholder councils committed to putting more services into Optalis and investing in the work we do.”
Optalis provides a range of support and care services for older people, adults with a disability and people with mental health needs both in the community and at home. And all of its services are rated as ‘good’ by Care Quality Commission.
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