Redesigning the front door to social care for adults and children’s services
North Tyneside Council commissioned FutureGov as part of an ambitious transformation programme that involved rethinking its services around the needs of users. It looked to introduce new ways of working and aimed to save over £50 million within two years.
– Lisa Clarke, Transformation Director
The last six months has taught me that the FutureGov way is the right way. That we just have to get on, work in sprints and make things happen. So that's what we're going to do.
We began by setting up a lab to build capacity internally and share our design knowledge. This was put into practice via a project to redesign the entry point for social care - an area we’re particularly experienced in having worked with five councils on similar projects.
Together with the transformation team and key figures from social care, we considered two briefs: “How might we build confidence within a wide range of stakeholders to recognise, explore and respond to low-level social care concerns” and “How might we rebalance the relationships between social care partners, agencies and the council?”.
Fewer referrals through the front door by increasing access to better information, advice and guidance services (if implemented)
Savings from making earlier decisions in children’s services and undertaking less investigations that resulted in no action
It became clear that the current model was failing - pressures on response times and anxiety around how best to deal with callers meant that frontline staff didn’t feel equipped to meet user needs. In addition, there were significant service failings for users throughout the social care system and too many residents were automatically put onto expensive care packages. This led us to think that assets within the local community weren’t being used effectively.
We created a range of tools to address these issues, including:
- A digital advice tool to improve the accuracy and consistency of advice being given to users. We hoped that it would also ensure that lower level needs were met with a range of holistic support instead of being put ‘in the system’ and faced with a limited and often inappropriate care plan.
- Four ‘stories of transformation’ that set out the costs associated with specific problems and how these could be addressed in the future.
- Two ‘playbooks’ (operating model design) for the social care service area and for the business redesign team. These are a simple, visual way of documenting the most important features of how a team, service or organisation operates.
- Future user journeys, a prototyping plan and an implementation plan, which were delivered in a session with senior managers.
We were also tasked with putting together a capability transfer programme that focussed on agile project management, user research and creating a culture of prototyping.
The council is now adopting a range of solutions through prototyping within the front door team. These include:
- Testing various conversation tools that enable call handlers to spot patterns and look beyond thresholds.
- A devolved multi-disciplinary team working in communities and not from the corporate centre.
- The next iteration of a supercharged digital advice tool that enables residents to self-serve their own care needs.
If our solutions are implemented, we anticipate a reduction in adult social care referrals by up to 50% and reduced assessment volumes by 30%. As a result, £900,000 in savings would be realised through earlier decision making.