Insights

Mark Raeburn: 5.5 minutes

Is a new ‘radical approach’ to children’s social care the answer? – Part Two

Earlier this month we looked at the ‘Radical Approach’ for social care that was unveiled at the end of last year and discussed at a webinar in January. We analysed the plans and sought to look at them with a dispassionate eye, as with something that describes itself as radical, you want proof. Something that is intensified given our desire to make a difference to the sector and quest to ensure that any new ideas are thought out and will actually make a change.

Social care needs change and it needs it now. Money is leaving the sector quicker than we can discuss its loss. It is something that has led to many local authorities cutting back on essential services. We know that the situation does not need to be as dire as it is and why we have taken an interest in the ‘Radical Approach’. We believe that our award-winning software and services platform will be the perfect accompaniment to this new model and in this week’s article, we are going to discuss how.  

To begin with, we will take the key elements from the model that were discussed during the previous article and showcase how ECLIPSE can ensure that they run more effectively.

The Insights Team

Firstly, the Insight Team could have their job made that much more efficient through the use of ECLIPSE. Advice and guidance will be provided to everyone from this one team and so having more information can only be of benefit and this is where ECLIPSE and the data that it provides would come in.

Whilst the team is doing the back-office administration, they would also be feeding into front end practice and the strategy level around the key themes that are being generated from within ECLIPSE. This would give invaluable insight into where strategy and resource should be focussed in that Local Authority.

Engagement with service users

This is the key. With whatever change you are considering, the service user needs to be at the forefront of your mind. They are the ones that you are caring for and often times their needs are complex and so you need to engage with them in the best way possible. The webinar that the SCIE put forth spoke about the engagement of young people and families using tools that are familiar. Tools such as photos and videos are regularly available and so why should social workers not be able to engage with users in this manner.

Out of the box, ECLIPSE provides access to upload photos and videos, something that has generated positive reviews from clients.

“…I have an iPad and use ECLIPSE interchangeably on that which is lovely as I can also show the children that I work with that information. I have a 16-year-old who wanted to understand how everything worked and I could show him, which was lovely. He was able to see everything that we had about him instantly at the click of a button.”

This provides the opportunity for the child to put their story in their words, in the way that they understand the most.

Additionally, the webinar on this approach spoke about the engagement of young people and families using tools that we see in tech these days (photos, videos etc). These are tools which ECLIPSE has today, out of the box. No other solution on the market can offer this claim and say that they are offering a true Software as a Service solution.

The Radical approach will work best if adopted across the board to take control of children’s social care. All data points to the fact that we need a change today and to enable this, we need to ensure that the technology that supports the model is up-to-date. Taking pictures and uploading videos reduces the time it takes to write the case notes that define a child. By utilising these tools you can ensure maximum benefit, all of which gives time back to the team to spend with the children by interacting in the most beneficial way possible.

Strengthening relationships

The entire purpose of the ‘Radical approach’ is to provide additional time for workers to spend with children and by including a technological solution such as ECLIPSE, you can exploit this benefit further. By using the ECLIPSE Case Management and ECLIPSE Citizen Engagement components of our software and services platform you can enable real-time feedback. This cycle will then consistently inform decision making with no delay.

The wishes of parents and the child’s story can be instantly captured via ECLIPSE and uploaded. These will then be visible for social workers within each team in order to look through based on which team they are assigned to within the ‘Radical approach’ model. There would be no delay and decisions would only be limited by the team on the other side and this is what social care desperately needs.

The Citizen Engagement component of ECLIPSE will be able to further enable collaboration and transparency between the professionals and the individual involved. With the seamless flow of information through to the master record on the ECLIPSE Case Management platform, channel shift is made easy.

The choice will be provided for the citizen with the ability to self-refer, self-asses and self-serve. Service users will be able to interact with their record, contribute to their plan and express their wishes and feelings via a digital platform. Using ECLIPSE Citizen Engagement the individual's journey is seamless and joined up. It connects all of the dots that are created through the ‘Radical approach’.

What are the next steps?

Following on from the webinar, a community group has been established to push conversations forward. Through discussion comes change. We have believed this since day one and will continue to believe that for as long as we are around. The new approach to children’s social care has benefits and we need to start the conversation today.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence has started the conversation and we applaud them for it. We all know that change is required now. The status quo as is can no longer continue as services are reduced to bare bones. Support services for children can mean the difference between supported family life and a generation in care.

On a monthly basis, the discussions will continue and we hope that they will lead at least at the basic level to some form of change. What the final form of the change looks like, we don’t know, all we can do as a supplier is keep our ears to the ground and join discussions such as this one in order to be a part of the conversation. At the same point, we have created our software and services platform to work with any form of social work, whether that is the radically new approach or other models such as Signs of Safety.

What we do know is that conversation is key. It is the board in which change springs from.

Conclusion

Change is promised everywhere. From the partner that convinces you that they will change if you give them another chance to the organisation that has been re-branded. Everywhere you look, change is promised but how often is this commitment fulfilled? With the new model, we have the promise of major change and better use of time each day. This is not to be sniffed at, but it is, as yet, unproven.

SCIE has used data from a local authority to extrapolate potential savings that could be made but it has not been tested in the field. This instantly raises questions as to the feasibility of testing another model of social work that will require time and resources. The authors behind the proposed model of care have stated that it can be used at the same time as your current model, with no extra cost. This we can believe but there will still be resources and team priorities to consider. However, you look at it there will be disruption and will it be worth it?

We agree that change is required but are unsure whether this new model is the answer as at the moment the benefits are theoretical. New models like the GEMS model are emerging all the time. With our ECLIPSE Software and Services Platform, we have designed it to be flexible so that it can support emerging models of social work. Our customers are able to run ‘test bed’ projects supported by technology using ECLIPSE.

Like it or not, technology is a key factor when it comes to success in the 21st century. A fit for purpose platform can create efficiencies through being utilised alongside models of social work and this is the balance that we are all looking for. The question that still emerges from the webinar is, will the new model work in the real world without a fit for a purpose technology platform to back it up. What we are certain of is that discussion is needed to enable change and that we can support wholeheartedly.

*Taken from TheFrontline.org