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Plans to bring Vivo back into Council are approved

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet has approved plans to change Vivo Care Choices’ governance model so services will be provided in house by the Council from April 2022.

Vivo is currently a separate company wholly owned and funded by the Council, delivering a range of support for people with learning disabilities and autism and older people across Cheshire West and Chester.

When Vivo was originally set up, the vision was that the company would compete in a wider social care market over time, but the Council has remained the main source of funding and is constantly reviewing its ways of working to deliver the best possible services for residents.

Changes to the NHS at a national level scheduled for 2022 mean that new opportunities are arising for closer integration, with services for people with learning disabilities among the areas most likely to benefit. At a local level, the Council and its partners will need to join up and integrate health and care, looking at different models to deliver services that are less bureaucratic and enhance public confidence and accountability.

Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will be dissolved in March 2022 and its statutory functions will sit within the Cheshire and Merseyside integrated care system. With Vivo set to move back to the Council, the new arrangement will deliver a continued high level of service for all people supported by Vivo and mean there will be more opportunities for innovation, integration and joint working between the Council and NHS, with the Council able to adapt more quickly to any opportunities that arise once Vivo is back in house.

There will be no cuts to Vivo’s current services and it will continue to provide invaluable services to the people who depend on them.  

Councillor Val Armstrong, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “Vivo has made significant progress in recent years and everyone connected with the company has done a fantastic job to continue delivering high quality services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the opportunities arising on the back of closer integration between the Council and NHS, it makes sense to bring Vivo back in the Council rather than as a standalone company.

“There will be plenty of chances for us to innovate and continue developing Vivo’s services, creating benefits for the people being supported across Cheshire West and Chester. 

“As this is simply a change to the way Vivo is governed, the same level of services will be provided by the same dedicated, professional and skilful workforce, but we’ll be able to adapt far more quickly and make the most of the opportunities that the changes in the NHS will provide.

“We look forward to working with everyone at Vivo on a smooth transition back to the Council and providing high quality services for many years to come.”

This proposal will reduce the complexity of arrangements – for example, leases and other duties – between Vivo and the Council and make processes for Vivo staff more straightforward, removing any extra monitoring and reporting that is needed when commissioned.

The Council will build on the strengths Vivo currently has, continue to develop the principles of coproduction and remove some of the current operational barriers with Vivo being a Council company.

The proposed arrangement will strengthen the financial security of Vivo as it will be part of the Council rather than a commissioned service and the Council is committed to retaining its terms and conditions for Vivo staff as they become Council employees. There will be no impact on Vivo staff and their jobs will be protected as they will simply be moving over to the Council.

A Programme Board, including staff from both the Council and Vivo, is meeting regularly to make sure there is a smooth transition to this new governance model. Plans are in place to complete the work by the end of March 2022, which will coincide with the new financial year and the NHS and CCG changes at both national and local levels.

An Advisory Board is also being set up as part of these new arrangements, providing an opportunity for staff, people using services and their carers and family members to have their say. Giving people a strong voice in their community and the services they deliver will still be a key part of what Vivo does.

The decision to approve the new governance model for Vivo is subject to a call-in period.

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