Insights

Mark Denton: 7.5 minute read

How do you design the perfect case recording solution?

There will be many schools of thought on this as to what information needs to be included and what needs to be excluded. What we believe is that as many pieces of the jigsaw as possible are required to create the best possible case record. By including as much information as you can, you will ensure that the individual in front of you receives the best care available.

This is the goal of all professionals that operate within the social care sector. To ensure that person-centred care is met at all times is the ultimate reason for being in post. You do not apply to become a Social Worker if you are not looking to make a difference in the lives of others. It is a selfless industry and one that we have continued to support for nearly 30 years.

Administration is a key part of all of our lives. We need data from which to learn. High-level views and reasoning is something that every industry requires. It ensures that trends can be noticed and appropriate remedies developed. To this end, data needs to be created at the ground level by the professional but when they are pressed for time, items can be missed.

In the News

Digital technology and the difference that it can bring to the NHS is a key component of the NHS Long Term Plan. The efficiencies that can be gained will be key in drawing back the deficits and creating a long-term funding platform that will push the service forward. This will create a sustainable system.

Whilst these efficiencies have been quoted within the news, there have been no such promises by the government for social care. It is all still hypothetical at this moment in time but we have seen the benefits that technology will create. We are helping teams across the country see the benefits of technology in their workplace, moving them over to the ECLIPSE platform since the start of the year.

A survey earlier this year by Community Care found that more than half of all the Social Workers surveyed had issues each day with their case management system. The reason for this? Systems in the workplace are still catching up with those that we see in our personal lives. We saw the move towards the Cloud and designed our ECLIPSE platform accordingly.

Working with Social Workers to ensure that this change in technology would be of benefit to those who would be using the system and not our shareholders, of which we have none. As Managing Director at OLM, Mark Raeburn stated within Community Care regarding the results,

 “Unfortunately the results are not surprising, the majority of social care systems are based on old technology with all the performance issues and usability issues that come with that. The technology you use in your everyday life is mobile, simple to use and always easy to access. This is the bar that social care software suppliers should be aiming at.

“Social Worker feedback and input is so essential in the development of any system. We developed our latest social care system ECLIPSE with the input of over 500 social workers and their input was hugely valuable. Change is coming to social care and technology will be an important part of this transformation. Before investing in new software I would recommend that the local authority always runs user testing, rather than only view the system via a demonstration.”

What aspects should you consider when looking at case management systems?

Accessibility

This aspect is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century. Being able to access your information from anywhere, at any time and on any device. It is something that we take for granted in our personal lives. You can speak to your loved ones at the click of the button and so why should you not be able to do the same at work?

Have a few minutes before that next appointment? Don’t waste the time, take out your phone and catch up on some case recording. Make every moment count as in an increasingly time-constrained industry, you need to ensure that efficiencies are found and utilised where possible. 

For us, this is a key aspect that you need to consider from the start. Before any other consideration within the case recording process, you need to ensure that the notes are accessible, breaking the chains of the office. If you are going to be ill for the day and need someone to cover for you, then what is easier, emailing notes over one by one in Word format or re-assigning electronically?

Being able to re-assign cases can mean the difference between seconds and minutes. It can mean the difference between disparate files and a scroll of a tablet. It’s a consideration that whilst seemingly innocuous on the surface, in reality, can underpin a busy social work department.

Usability

It’s all well and good creating a case record system that can be seen anywhere and anytime but if it is harder to use than the average parking machine, then you will end up causing more problems than you solve. So you need to be utilising a system that can be accessed from anywhere and on any device, which needs to function seamlessly.

What we mean by this is that it is all well and good creating the perfect looking case record for the computer but if it falls over on laptop and mobile, then you have lost two-thirds of your audience. Case records need to be accessible anywhere, on top of working in sync with their device counterparts. You want to ensure that all of the information available at the mobile level can also be seen back at the office by managers.

An overly complex system will end up being placed to one side in favour of simplicity and what seems familiar. This you cannot blame the user for as they have a job to do and Social Workers have one of the most stressful jobs out there. They have huge demands placed on their time each year and need a technology system in place that will give them time back to spend with those in need.

The Model Office

Certain notes need to be recorded when it comes to Social Work. They need to be up-to-date with the latest statutory requirements in order to record these and make note of them during visits. This can be quite hard with the pace at which change occurs and can be easily forgotten.

The Model Office provides a framework for the chosen case recording system that can be quickly and easily updated from a central point. If requirements change then managers and team leaders can quickly and easily update the framework. This will then cascade down for all users and the forms that they will be using will reflect current statutory requirements.

The Model Office will also ensure that new members of the team will be made aware of new regulations and recording requirements as soon as they arrive. They will be trained in a manner that reflects best practice and avoids getting into bad habits. Workflows and checklists can also help this process for new members of staff.

Multi-media

Much like that of being accessible anywhere and at any time, being able to support multi-media imagery and video can enable essential time savings. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and to this end, a case recording system that can include imagery of the child when they have sustained injuries can be powerfully emotive. Rather than spending a minute describing what happened, you can save time by showing colleagues and potentially the courts what happened.

The advent of smartphones and technology mean that most of those under the age of 30 will have grown up with this technology. The ability to take a picture or record a video at the click of a button is something that is assumed. For them, phones have always had cameras and so by including the ability to include multi-media imagery into the case record you also once again ensure accessibility.

Speech is another key consideration when choosing a case record system. Work with the vulnerable individual directly by including their voice through dictation. This can help to ensure that they feel more involved in the process by having their voice captured directly. Person-centred care is when the wishes of the individual are captured and taken into consideration. By capturing their voice you can ensure that they are part of the process.

Record everything

The perfect case record most likely does not exist as there will always be something that can be added. The important consideration is that as much as possible is recorded. As many pieces of the jigsaw need to be collected from as many agencies as possible and this is why we need to work together.

Sharing information has been highlighted as a key issue in many cases over the years. One of the biggest of these was baby P in which different agencies had different pieces of the puzzle. If they had all of the information then they could have acted differently and this is where the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub emerged from.

Frontline services need to share information quickly and efficiently to ensure that the picture of the troubled individual in front of them is as complete as possible. Only this way will the one that is in need of help be offered the appropriate assistance. By ensuring that your Social Work team is using a case recording system that offers easy accessibility you will be able to ensure that all organisations that are connected to the individual can see all of the facts.

You cannot make a legal case with only half of the evidence, you can’t make a correct patient diagnosis with only half of the data and therefore, how can Social Workers offer the best solution to the service user without all of the information? They can’t and so you need to ensure accessibility of data.

ECLIPSE Case Management

Do we consider ECLIPSE to be the perfect system? No. That would be arrogant of us and would not be a statement that is in keeping with the origins of OLM. We believe that ECLIPSE offers a best-practice solution that assists social workers in doing their jobs more efficiently. We know that it offers all of the considerations that we have outlined in this article for the perfect case recording solution but we know that it can always do more.

This is why we provide continuous delivery of the service via an always-on Cloud Native platform. It is something that we are proud to offer our clients. The ECLIPSE platform is award-wining, offering solutions to all of the commonly heard of issues that Social Workers face with technology.

ECLIPSE is a best of breed technology platform that will aid you in creating the perfect case record. It is a case management solution that is constantly being updated in order to keep your team ahead of requirements. In an ever-changing landscape, it is a helping hand to a struggling team in order to provide the best canvas for which to paint the picture of the vulnerable individual that is in front of the professional.

To conclude

Perfection is arrogance and as a supplier, we know that we cannot create the perfect tool for the Social Worker as requirements continually change per county. Statutory requirements change regularly and so we have created a best practice companion that will help the Social Worker build the most complete picture of the vulnerable individual.

It is available anywhere, at any time and on any device. This is something that may seem innocuous on the surface but as soon as you dig deeper you see the practical day-to-day benefits. We say that we are able to save workers hours each week and this is true as we help them do the job they were trained to do quicker.

We believe that the more information you can record, the better but this needs to be tempered against what is needed from a statutory point of view and time that is available. By embracing the technology that is available we have created a solution that can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. A system that provides the best opportunity to capture as much information as possible at the most convenient moment.