31% increase in bed occupancy rates

The City of Edinburgh Council implemented OLM’s Commissioning solutions. They gained a 31% increase in bed occupancy rates

Respite, or short break care is a key priority for many Local Authorities working towards the preventative agenda, yet many Local Authorities suffer from large under-utilisation of block-contracted provision with occupancy rates of just over 50% being commonplace.

Results of this include: wasted funds, with purchased provision not being used and clients missing out on care services.

The background

Listed as a World Heritage site, Edinburgh, is a beautiful and prosperous city with a current population of 448,624.

The City of Edinburgh Council provides a number of services for older people. These range from services within the community, including: home and day care, alongside long term-residential care. In line with the Scottish Executive's drive to widen the availability of short break care to benefit carers and care recipients, the Council also provides short breaks through a number of block contracts, with trusted providers.

The Council manages the booking process via a brokerage system, with social workers in the field referring client’s needs into a central brokerage team called, STARRT.

The Challenge

Like many Local Authorities, The City of Edinburgh faced a number of challenges in the management of bed contracts. In particular, they were suffering with a high rate of bookings being cancelled with very late notice or after the care package was due to begin or even, in some cases, after the care period had ended.

With these problems in mind, The Council sought a solution to track, monitor, commission and report on the usage of their short break block contracts. In particular the Council required a cost-effective system to help them rebook cancelled beds, relieve pressure on waiting lists and bring forward the delivery of much needed services. The key objective was to ensure that occupancy levels were maintained at a much higher level, whilst keeping a degree of flexibility in the services that are available.

The solution

The Council turned to OLM’s Commissioning solution to help them manage their short break bed contracts, as Catriona Lyon, Planning and Commissioning Officer at The City of Edinburgh Council, explains,

"The new system saves us time and helps towards our goal of maximising occupancy levels."

The solution provides The Council with the unrivalled ability to manage the whole local care market, both now and in the future. The solution assists staff at the Council with online reservation, booking and cancellation facilities, including automatic communication with both providers and referring social workers.

A detailed reporting centre provides information on items such as unmet need, potential cost of unmet need, reasons for unused beds and the actual cost of unused beds. This assists the Council with their future commissioning strategies. 

Easy-to-use. The display and functionality is tailored to The Council’s unique needs and, as the system is hosted remotely, there is no impact on the IT infrastructure. Internet access is all that is required to use the system. It creates a real-time, interactive, shared, clearing-house for bookings and information that eliminates the risk of duplicated placements or unintended bed vacancies. The online booking of services also means that placements happen quickly and an information trail is captured.


The OLM solution has delivered positive results; delivering a better service at a lower cost and ensuring maximum use of valuable resources: 

  • Increased occupancy levels

  • 70% of cancelled beds rebooked

  • Savings of £137, 240 per year through filling vacant beds

  • Time savings

  • Ability to monitor and analyse performance

Catriona continues, 

"OLM's software has prevented the council from wasting the equivalent of £376 per night or £137,240 per year through vacant beds"