Modelling travel distances and times for home care and day care within local authorities in England with particular reference to population distribution effects

Health Services Management Research (in press)

A Hindle, G Hindle and M Spollen

This study has been carried out for the County Councils Network in England as a contribution to wide-ranging deliberations concerning the need for revised funding methods for personal social services in English Local Authorities. It has concentrated on the estimation of travel-related costs in the provision of domiciliary services particularly for elderly clients. The approach taken has been based on the findings obtained from service modelling in a sample of Local Authority areas. These findings have then been generalised to all Local Authorities in England with aim of providing a tool capable of estimating the differential costs between these organisations.

Although the approach does not yield any final answers it does show how such differential costs are dependent on travel speeds attainable in areas of different population density, on inter-call distances and on a range of operational characteristics such as visit times, daily hours available, vehicle capacities and so on. The main general finding has been that the previous approach based on so-called sparsity allowances has seriously underestimated the differential costs likely to be incurred in Local Authorities as a result of population density differences and particularly that more rural areas have been inadequately compensated within the funding mechanism for these effects.