Having an Outcomes Framework can be really helpful for both commissioners and provider organisations, but there are some key differences between the two.
Having worked on the development of both commissioners’ and providers’ Outcomes Frameworks, Beacon has identified some key differences between the two – and how they can work well together. Commissioners are concerned with improving outcomes for whole populations or communities, while providers are concerned with what they can actually achieve for the people they are working with – and a number of things flow from that:
- A commissioners’ framework will want to set out the full overarching strategic intentions for a particular population, whereas a provider’s framework needs to set out the actual outcomes they can evidence they are achieving for the people they are working with. If commissioners and providers are talking well together, the actual outcomes providers can evidence they contribute to, will be the same as a small number of the commissioners’ required outcomes, perhaps just one.
- In our experience, the outcomes “offered” by providers may be rather more short term, as they will focus on what can be evidenced. Outcomes set out by commissioners may be more long term, and consider “futures avoided” down the line.
- A commissioners’ framework may express the required outcomes as absolute statements (just as the 5 Every Child Matters outcomes did), e.g. for all children in the local area to “be healthy”. A provider’s framework on the other hand will need to reflect that the organisation will be making a contribution towards a population outcome, as there will be other factors and agencies involved too.
So any single service will aim to make a contribution to overall population outcomes, but it cannot be held to account for say, school attendance of all children within the local area. It can only contribute to the school attendance of the children in families they are working with.
Developing a commissioning Outcomes Framework across all Children’s Services can help enormously with commissioning and performance management of both internal and external services. A subset of outcomes and accompanying performance measures can be agreed for each service from the Outcomes Framework – clearly demonstrating the contribution of each service to the overall set of required outcomes. This enables a joined up approach, the identification of any gaps or duplication, and ensures the whole commissioning agenda is tackled.
And click here to see more about some work we recently undertook with a family support service to do just that.
If you would like to talk further about Outcomes Frameworks, please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The language of outcomes
It is helpful to notice that people tend to use the word “outcome” as a shorthand for both “Required outcomes” and “Actual outcomes”.
Required outcomes are the results that you are setting out to achieve.
Actual outcomes describe the actual results of your combined efforts – how things are at the moment.
So to avoid confusion, it is helpful to be clear whether the outcomes you are talking about are “required”, or “actual”.