We are currently looking to recruit two Senior Commissioning Officers. The role is varied, and each day/week can look quite different, but all bring their own challenges in different ways. Officers usually work across a range of thematic areas which include commissioning for learning disabilities, mental health, children’s social care services, early intervention for families and many more. Read on to find out more about the role, and what a day-to-day experience looks like for one of our Senior Commissioning Officers.
A week in the life of an SCO
I am currently working across two thematic areas of Commissioning, Learning Disabilities and Mental Health Support. Within both of these areas I have responsibility for the work I am leading on which means that I have to manage my time well and meet lots of conflicting deadlines. An SCO has to remain motivated and keep working at the pace, and support others to do the same for our Commissioning Managers and Commissioners.
This week I have facilitated a project meeting around developing better provision for residential accommodation for Young People with very complex disabilities. I chair the meeting and we use the project plan I have prepared to keep the work on track. I take a note of any actions that come of the out of each meeting for any individuals. I then have to ensure they are followed up and completed within agreed timescales. I have also been tasked with scrutinising the findings of a recent research study carried out around what Mental Health support looks like for the people of Essex, so this involves lots of reading and carefully thinking through what this means for us as a Commissioning Team and ‘what do we do next’ around the findings (lots of coffee and peace and quiet needed). Luckily, the commissioning team are designated ‘anywhere workers’ by ECC and this means we can choose to work from home, the office or other community locations as best enables us to work effectively.
On another day, I’m likely to be out and about – for example as part of recommissioning of a new contract for Housing Related Support for vulnerable young people, I carried out engagement with different groups of young people who use the service – it was my responsibility to plan the engagement carefully, including internal sign off of what we needed to ask, carrying out the visits and talking to various young people in person across the County. I thoroughly enjoy this type of work, as it helps you really understand what people need and what they want from any services we commission, which enables us to make better decisions. It is my job to ensure this is feedback to the Commissioners in a clear and appropriate way so the voices of our communities are heard.
I am currently working on a new procurement, which is for the care element of a specific Learning Disabilities Supported Living Unit. I am reviewing the current contract which will help tell us what (if any) changes to make to the new contract. I work closely with the Team Managers in Social Care and also our Procurement Team as part of this work to ensure we have all the right expertise on hand. I am currently preparing an Internal Governance paper to get the appropriate approval to proceed with the procurement and go out to tender. The processes can be very complex and time consuming and it is important to get it right, however there is always someone there to assist so as a Senior Commissioning Officer you are never on your own.
Finally, I prepared a ‘Move On’ Pack for individuals leaving supported Mental Health accommodation who are moving on to independence. This involved talking to a range of experts to ensure the pack had the right information in it, which took weeks of meetings and checking back, but we have concluded the pack, and I worked the internal ECC design Team who created the final accessible version of the pack which looks fantastic, I am really pleased with it. The role does give me opportunities to be creative and come up with new ideas.
I have regular 1:1’s with both my Line Manager and also Commissioners to keep in touch and make sure we are all linking in, and I work within a great team of motivated and supportive colleagues. We have regular team development days where we all come together in person which are always useful around both work priorities and maintain our relationships with our colleagues.
Q&A with a Senior Commissioning Officer
Q: How long have you been an SCO and what did you do beforehand?
A: I’ve been a senior commissioning officer in the Children and Families commissioning team for a year. Before this I worked in business development for an Advocacy provider.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your role?
A: I used to work on tenders on the other side of the commissioning process, as a provider; so it’s really satisfying being able to have a more fundamental impact on what services look like before they go to the market. For example, currently I’m working on a new service to improve the emotional wellbeing of victims of Domestic Abuse. This involves:
- Trying to understand demand by reviewing data from current services to understand how frequently victims with emotional wellbeing needs currently have to be signposted elsewhere.
- Desktop research to understand what evidence base there is around what interventions may work best for this cohort.
- Capturing the voice of victims and survivors around what matters to them in this area.
- Drafting delivery models which take all of the above into account.
Q: How do you feel working with the Commissioning Team has developed you in both work and your personal life?
A: It often feels like the commissioning team sits at the centre of a range of functions, pulling activity together into a concrete service. This really helps build a broad knowledge of how the Council works to improve outcomes for our communities. There are lots of opportunities to develop personally and professionally, for example through presenting to a number of audiences. I’m currently part of the team recommissioning Homebased Care for children with disabilities in Essex. This project group meets once every two weeks and includes stakeholders from social care, finance and procurement. My role can be to bring together work from other board members to ensure commissioning progresses or carry out specific tasks on behalf of the board. For example, two of my actions from a previous meeting were:
- To put together a report on views of families using the service based on interviews carried out by me and colleagues from our research team; and then present this back at a subsequent meeting
- To create a draft market engagement presentation to be shared with the group at the subsequent meeting.
Q: Why do you feel that ECC is a great ‘employer for choice’?
A: Having never directly worked in commissioning or even in a local authority before, I have been really well developed and supported to get up to speed in areas I needed to build my understanding and further explore areas I knew I was interested in. We’re given plenty of opportunity to reflect on our development: We have team meetings every two weeks, these include updates on things that affect our work from across the council as well as being a general opportunity to check-in and share experiences. Supervisions are monthly and provide an opportunity to reflect on my work specifically and anything else I might need. We also have quarterly away days which are fun opportunities for the whole team to get together and discuss things both work related and not.
Are you interested in becoming a Senior Commissioning Officer? To find out more about this position, please see the job advert here.
Alternatively, please feel free to email the Entry to Work team at firstname.lastname@example.org