Reshaping the landscape of England’s adult social care services – best practice webinar highlights

Imosphere recently hosted a groundbreaking webinar (available to view here) in collaboration with Suffolk County Council, Dorset Council, and Sunderland City Council. The focus was on exploring innovative methods and cutting-edge tools aimed at streamlining the ‘front door’ of adult social care. This collaborative effort showcased strategic partnerships, efficiency, prevention, and demand management strategies, and digital transformation aligned with a preventative strengths-based approach. Key representatives from each council presented insights into their unique approaches. Here, Imosphere highlights the valuable perspectives provided by each council on reshaping the landscape of England’s adult social care services.

Development and implementation of Suffolk’s supported self-assessment

Jamie Stewart, Transformation Manager from Suffolk County Council, outlined the development of their supported self-assessment offer in collaboration with Imosphere, emphasising the role of digital technology as key to enhancing the “front door” to adult social care services. The initiative aligns with Suffolk’s social care strategy, “People at the Heart of Care”, with a strong focus on recognising people as experts in their own care whilst leveraging digital tools to enhance services.

Suffolk’s digital transformation strategy was initiated in response to social care reforms, with a particular emphasis on addressing the challenges posed by increased demand and complexity. The goal was to effectively manage surges in demand by employing digital tools, including a comprehensive online self-assessment tool. This tool aimed to empower citizens, offering them greater control over the care process and allowing them to share their story at a time and pace to suit their needs. The richness of information enabled by this approach will help practitioners by facilitating better triaging and driving person-centred conversations.

The Council’s collaboration with Imosphere commenced in December 2022 when they purchased Imosphere’s solutions including Formulate for Adults and Carers, Imosphere’s Self-Assessment solution, and elements of Imosphere’s strengths-based toolset. Practical work began in February of the following year where a dedicated working group, comprising practitioners, system support, and development leads, was established to ensure the successful implementation of Imosphere’s solutions and make the digital “front door” of adult social care services more accessible.

Key milestones included the launch of a new social care strategy, engagement workshops, and the development of a supported self-assessment. Challenges were addressed through iterative processes, incorporating feedback, testing, and pilot programs. Co-production with user groups played a crucial role in ensuring the active engagement and involvement of adults and carers in the design and implementation of the self-assessment tool.

Collaboration with Imosphere was characterised by a positive working relationship, realistic timeframes, weekly meetings, and responsiveness. Imosphere played a pivotal role in the deployment of the Formulate tool, providing support in answering practitioner questions and facilitating networking with other local authorities.

In summary, Jamie’s presentation during the webinar highlighted the significance of the digital transformation in making the “front door” of adult social care services more accessible and effective. The collaboration with Imosphere was instrumental in achieving this goal, resulting in a successful and impactful enhancement of Suffolk County Council’s social care services.

Dorset Council’s innovative digital strategies to support ‘front door’ efficiencies

Jaime Guercio from Dorset Council focused on digital strategies to enhance the efficiency of the front door to adult social care services during her webinar segment. The Council’s digital initiatives aimed to empower citizens, streamline processes, and provide instant access to information and services, ultimately reducing administrative burdens and optimising resources.

Jaime discussed the Council’s Bridgit Carer’s online support service, launched in May 2023. This service allows carers to create a self-help plan and toolkit, connecting them to local and national resources. The presentation highlights that 4,415 carers have utilised this service so far.

Dorset Council is also prioritising getting the fundamentals of citizen information and advice firmly in place. They aim to provide accurate, well-structured content on their website, tailored to meet the needs of end-users. The goal is to empower residents to find information quickly, reducing lower-level queries to the call centre and allowing more time for those in need.

Jaime discussed various tools being implemented, including a financial estimator tool to address queries about the cost of care. The Access Community Gateway, integrated with the Mosaic system, is highlighted as a significant milestone. It allows the council to build forms, including the Imosphere Self-Assessment forms, directly into the portal, and will allow information from the self-assessment to flow seamlessly into Mosaic, eliminating the need for practitioners to re-key information.

Furthermore, Jaime’s webinar presentation highlighted the importance of having a single sign-on between the customer account and the online portal. The Council aims to track resident activities, join up services, and provide preventative messages based on resident profiles.

She concluded with an overview of AI possibilities, including chatbots, virtual assistants, and automation for triaging information, forecasting service demands, and analysing resident preferences. The UK social care sector is excited about the future of AI and other technological advancements, expecting that technologies and solutions, like Imosphere’s adult social care solutions, will continue to markedly enhance service delivery by improving efficiency, personalisation, and the overall quality of care for individuals in need. Imosphere has indeed witnessed a growing number of organisations and local authorities embracing their innovative solutions to tackle current challenges and enhance the effectiveness of social care services.

A pioneering approach to prevention

Emma Anderson, Head of Sunderland City Council’s Community Therapy service, shed light on their journey in developing adult services, particularly the front door model and the new Building Independence form, co-produced with Imosphere. Emma highlighted the challenges Occupational Therapists face, including a rise in service contacts without a proportional increase in successful assessments.

Sunderland’s therapy service encompasses various teams, collaborating with Primary Care Network (PCN) and Integrated Care Board (ICB) to provide comprehensive care. During the webinar, Emma stressed the importance of Sunderland’s ambitious goal; focusing on maximising therapy resources, delivering proportionate assessments, and meeting lower-level needs efficiently.

One of the Council’s key priorities is preventing, delaying, and reducing needs through a three-strand prevention model. Improving the ‘front door’ of adult social care is crucial in this approach and involves therapists sitting in multidisciplinary teams and delivering proportionate assessments. Emma emphasised the significance of consent, exploring digital communication methods, and continuing the digital journey initiated by the Council a few years ago.

Their therapy service aims to stabilise crises swiftly, offer Blue Badge services promptly, and promote self-mediated assessments for equipment. The presentation outlined their expectations from the Building Independence form, developed in collaboration with Imosphere. Emma praised the form’s functionality as being tailored to meet the needs of the therapies services - whilst pulling key data from various systems, informing assessments, addressing risk positively, and facilitating timely preventive support.

The Building Independence form also allows for proportionate assessments, supporting a strengths-based approach. Emma highlighted its pivotal role in transforming data into actionable insights, fostering continuous improvement and ensuring that interventions align to enhance the independence and well-being of the individuals served by Sunderland City Council’s Community Therapy service. The presentation underscored Sunderland City Council’s commitment to enhancing their therapy service, making it more responsive, preventative, and outcomes-driven.

Empowering tomorrow with digital and collaborative success

In conclusion, the webinar showed the transformative initiatives undertaken by each council, emphasising the pivotal role of digital tools and strategic collaborations. The success stories shared, from Suffolk’s digital self-assessment strategy to Dorset’s innovative digital efficiencies, and Sunderland’s preventative strengths-based approach, demonstrated a shared commitment to enhancing adult social care services. Imosphere’s tools played a crucial role in capturing personal outcomes, empowering citizens, and optimising the effectiveness of these initiatives. As the presentations concluded, there was a sense of anticipation for future advancements, including the exploration of AI technologies, reflecting a collective excitement about the potential for further collaboration and improvement in social care services.

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