Introduction

The mandatory requirement for all service users to receive a personal budget has placed a renewed focus on the requirement for home care services to respond flexibly to the individual needs of frail older people. Most services are commissioned by local authorities and provided by independent agencies yet little is known about this process. The study, informed by the views of carers and practitioners, is addressing this evidence gap.

Areas of enquiry focus on the appraisal of the components of the commissioning process and exploration of current arrangements. A mixed methods approach is being employed incorporating a literature review; analysis of secondary data; and primary data collection comprising a national survey and interviews with commissioners and providers. Changes in commissioning arrangements will be captured through comparison with findings from an earlier survey and current patterns and their implications explored using routinely generated secondary data. Production of evidence-based guidelines as a freely available web-based document to inform commissioning arrangements for home care for older people are the primary output of this study. Public engagement will be fostered by the recruitment of a group of interested citizens to assist in the analysis and interpretation of the research findings.