Managing services that deal directly with vulnerable citizens brings huge responsibility, even more so in the current climate. Antony King, Managing Director and Client Partner at Capita’s Health and Welfare business, shares how the human traits of empathy and compassion must always be at the heart of service delivery.
Research shows that Covid disproportionately impacted the vulnerable and this is likely to be an enduring trend as the cost of living crisis deepens. As a result, there is increasing pressure on both the private and public sectors to do more to deliver positive results for communities that need it most.
“Social impact is inherent in the work we do across health and welfare. Across our contracts, we are placing people into work, transforming NHS services and we are ensuring vulnerable people are getting access to key financial support. It is critical work.
“Clearly, processes need to be properly defined, executed and controlled, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are interacting with people who are going through challenging and, in some cases, distressing circumstances,” says King.
Delivering against society’s big challenges
Take the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) contract, which Capita has delivered on behalf of the Department for Communities (DfC) across Northern Ireland for six years. Their 200-strong team of healthcare professionals is made up of former paramedics, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses who have conducted over 300,000 assessments to date.
“Our healthcare professionals bring their empathy and compassion from the wards to the PIP experience. Our customer satisfaction levels are well over 95 per cent and a lot of that is down to the interaction the individual has had with our
healthcare professional on the day. They tell us they were put at ease or felt able to talk freely about their disability. This means we will deliver a better service and the Department for Communities will be better able to make a fair and accurate decision on somebody’s PIP claim.”
And when Covid forced the government into lockdown measures, how did Capita ensure vulnerable people could still access the service?
“We had to do whatever it took to protect claimants and our colleagues. In a week, we stood up an operation, in partnership with the Department for Communities, that enabled us to assess people over the telephone. This has since prompted a pilot to explore the viability of video assessments. Offering a multi-channel service means we can interact with claimants in a way that best suits their needs and reduce undue anxiety.”
“We will keep learning and keep improving; using our experience to redefine how the private sector can deliver key public services in a compassionate and empathetic way.”
Putting citizens at the heart of our service
More recently, Capita has been supporting the Victims’ Payments Board (VPB) to design and deliver the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme (TPDPS) disablement assessment process. The scheme is designed to acknowledge the harm suffered by those injured in Troubles related incidents during the conflict, and to aid reconciliation between people and communities following Northern Ireland’s past.
Following an international review, it was established that there was no model or blueprint to follow and, given the scale and unique nature of the clinical challenge and socio-political context presented, it demanded a bespoke solution that would sensitively and fairly deliver the necessary outcomes, and crucially, endeavour not to re-traumatise individuals going through the process.
“Alongside the VPB, we were clear that this had to be a wholly victim-centric approach. We collaborated with leading trauma and ‘Troubles’ experts from QUB, UU and Harvard University to research and design the process. We also worked closely with specialist stakeholder groups, such as WAVE Trauma Centre, which delivers specialist trauma training for our TPDPS clinical assessors. We also engaged with external specialists in disability assessment medicine.”
This input has been invaluable and acted upon by the Capita team, which is led by healthcare professionals. For instance, anybody applying for TPDPS and requiring an assessment of their permanent disablement will be assigned to one clinical assessor for the entire assessment journey. This avoids the need to potentially recall and repeat distressing information to multiple people.
Not standing still
These contracts are complex, high profile and subject to a lot of scrutiny. They are also bound by policies, regulations and the obvious budget controls, but at the centre of each case is an individual.
“That is why we do not stand still,” King says. “We will keep learning and keep
improving; using our experience to redefine how the private sector can deliver key public services in a compassionate and empathetic way. That has to be an imperative as demand for those services is only going to increase.
“I am immensely proud of the work we do and the positive difference we make every day, which sets us apart from the stereotypical corporate. As a trusted partner to government, we deeply care about the role we play and never forget that it is the public at large whom we serve.”
For more information on Capita’s health and welfare operations visit: