Working out loud: Deferred Payment Agreement (DPA) Calculator – Getting the right formula

21 May 2015, 8:00 am

Picture: iStockphoto/nuiiun

Picture: iStockphoto/nuiiun

Our next step in the Deferred Payment Agreement (DPA) Calculator project was to ensure the suppliers had the right formula for the calculation.

Our colleagues at the Department for Health worked on setting out the specific formula for calculation whilst we were establishing a group of local authority partners.

The nitty gritty of the DPA calculation formula

The calculation for costs and eligibility requirements for Deferred Payment Agreements (DPAs) are complicated and required considerable interpretation. It’s the reason there’s a need for a calculator in the first place. The complexity would be difficult for users, even for those who are good with numbers! Some of the challenges we faced were:

  • a DPA is an open-ended loan with compounding interest
  • the interest rate applied in each area can vary slightly, although it can’t go above a nationally-set level
  • the average cost of care can vary from one area to another (so the user may want to use an average cost unless they know which retirement home they plan to move to)
  • applicants can contribute to the cost of their residential care with things like their pension, payment from a family member, or renting out their home
  • eligibility to enter a DPA is based on many factors, including home ownership, living alone, and the level of savings and assets

Keeping the ball rolling: Initial structure and design review

iEG4 started work on the open API as soon as they got the calculation formula and eligibility data from the Department of Health. On 14th April the collaboration team held a discovery workshop so that:

  • we could review the project plan
  • iEG4 could demonstrate the alpha API by presenting the initial structure/design of the calculators the local authority partners will deploy on their websites
  • iEG4 could explain how to access the back end of the calculator and alter it to set local variables, such as interest rates
  • a discussion about user testing could take place – each authority is committed to doing some user testing to inform the product development
  • we could look at where the calculators fit into user journeys, where users would expect to find the tool and the kind of information they would expect to be able to be directed to next – these questions will be incorporated into the user testing script

We also had a discussion about the kind of data that could be gathered to help demonstrate the impact of the calculators. Not every authority has the same access to insight, but sources of information included web traffic logs, switchboard logs, and recorded enquiries about DPAs. The calculators themselves can also show how many people have used them and what percentage of people completed the form.

The local authority representatives at the session were from web/IT, information services, adult social care and finance so there was a good mix of experience in the room and they were able to provide feedback at this early stage to the developers about any changes required.

The outcomes of the discovery workshop review

The main outcomes of the discovery day workshop were:

  • iEG4 took away changes that need to be made and will be sending out links to each local authority partner to give them access to their customised calculator.
  • We agreed a user testing plan will be developed, complete with test script and user scenarios, and sent to all local authorities – this approach will ensure a degree of consistency with what is tested across each authority and will add greater weight to the feedback we get from users
  • We committed to holding a telephone conference call late-May to share findings from the user testing.