We want to discover how we reduce demand on the public sector by developing community led digital platforms to connect local people, to each other, activities, information and assets.
The Care Act 2014 requires councils to provide information and advice on how people can lead healthier and more active lives. To meet this duty, most councils have established website information directories, to signpost people to information.
Despite this, demand on the public sector continues to rise and the current provision of information – on health, social care, benefits, community activities is not working. The complexity and content of this information digitally is poor and resulting in failure demand.
Our project aims to rethink how we use technology to connect communities to information, advice and assets using a strengths-based approach. We want to work with citizens to better understand what information and advice they currently access and how, the potential gaps in this mapping and prototype digital solutions to improve how communities connect to the support they need.
We will articulate the saving to the public sector by co-producing with local people digital solutions that transform the way that community services are accessed, and public services provided.
Our objectives are to:
- Better understand what information, advice and support communities currently use and how (and explicitly co-producing this, so mapping is not limited to traditional public or third sector provision).
- Identify any gaps in provision and/or communities’ ability to connect and access support they need to be self-reliant.
- Prototype digital solutions to better connect people to support they need to be self-reliant.
- Develop a business case which articulates the benefits – such as reducing expensive social care packages and supporting channel shift.
- Develop a user report to share learning across the sector, and set out the next steps for implementing a digital solution.
The City of Wolverhampton Council will lead the discovery project, working with partners with effective project governance. It is anticipated that we will buy-in technical expertise to support effective engagement/co-production activity and advice on the technical/digital solutions to respond to the emerging requirements from communities. Through a project board and working groups across the partnership will ensure wide input and sharing of learning to inform a business case clearly setting out the potential benefits and savings to the public sector, a user research report summarising the project conclusions and outlining the next steps for developing a digital product to address what we have learnt.
Essential events/milestones to achieve objectives:
Dec 2018: Commission external consultancy support
Jan 2018: Co-production of asset mapping. Hold a minimum of 3 workshops with community stakeholders to identify requirements for a ‘community owned’ digital platform. Output will be a report summarising what information citizens currently use and what they need to facilitate improved ‘self help’.
February 2019: Understand the technical requirements of bringing multiple information sources/ feeds together on one platform engaging with citizens, operational teams and across the partnership to ensure that a digital solution would be effective and scalable. It is anticipated this will include a minimum of one workshop with technical ICT staff and commissioning teams plus one ‘hackathon’ to start to prototype solutions. Output will be a technical options report setting out options for a business case.
Mid March 2019: Testing the technical requirements with communities. Hold a workshop with a selection of community stakeholders to test proposed technical solutions.
End March 2019: Develop robust business case including options and costings of the digital solution that enables citizens to be more self-sufficient, thereby reducing costs on the council, liaising with partner councils to ensure solution transferable through working groups and online: Output: business case informing Alpha bid and next steps.
This project provides an opportunity to scope the potential for creating a co-produced, community owned digital platform to better connect citizens to information, support and neighbourhood assets.
Every council has to provide information and advice on how people can lead healthier and more active lives as part of the Care Act 2014. Every council is experiencing increasing demand and limited funding for public services. In particular adult social care budgets are stretched beyond delivery. One third of the £700 million savings nationally local councils must make to adult social care during 2018/19 are attributed to measures of developing asset-based and self-help approaches as to reduce the number of people receiving long term care. Empowering citizens is critical where as little as 15% of residents contacting social care are eligible for support and an average assessment costs of £1,500.
By co-producing a digital solution with local communities, we want to explicitly capture support that is outside current public and third sector provision to help inform future commissioning and innovation.
The anticipated benefits of our project are:
- Better outcomes for local people: communities will be able to more easily access and connect to the support they need, when they need it rather than relying on more formal interventions.
- Reduced cost of adult social care provision: as a result, we believe there will be less formal social care assessments (each resulting in a £1,500 saving per assessment)
- Channel shift: reducing cost of accessing services from face-to-face at £8.62 or telephone at £2.83 to only £0.15 online. Wolverhampton alone estimate potential savings of £1m in expenditure in addressing the issue.
 ADASS, 2018
 Lantern project, FutureGov
The project includes robust governance arrangements across councils – including our named partner, Walsall Council. This will include a project board, with representatives from different councils to review progress against the delivery of our objectives.
We are committed to working collaboratively with other councils, the community and other key stakeholders such as the voluntary sector. Co-production is at the heart of our proposal, and so project information, findings and data will be open by default. The key milestones in our project include workshops and hackathons, and we commit to using technology to widen access as far as possible to these key events – using tools such as Slack, Google Docs and GitHub.
We will more formally share findings through mechanisms such as the West Midlands Combined Authority, and relevant regional and national networks – such as Age UK, ADASS etc.
The outputs of our project include:
- A mapping of information advice guidance and community assets
- An assessment of any gaps in this mapping for consideration for future commissioning
- At least one prototype of a digital solution to bring the information communities want and need together
- A business case
- A user research report – which clearly sets out learning from all partners and communities that are part of the project, and how this could be applied in other councils and localities.
- A conclusion – a report which sets out the next steps for implementing a digital solution.
By the end of the discovery phase we will have established a robust business case.
This will set out the required investment – in both co-production processes, and digital technology to improve how communities connect with information.
It will also articulate the anticipated benefits including proposed savings for the partner councils, and aggregate this to set out the potential savings and benefits for the wider sector. We anticipate these savings will come from reduced adult social care assessment and care packages, and successful channel shift as people can access the information they need digitally, rather than having to present face to face, or telephone public sector services. We also anticipate better co-ordination between organisations which would lead to economies of scale, reduced duplication and streamlined delivery of services.
We also want to set out the wider social value of better outcomes for local people, through them connecting with community led information and support when needed – rather than receiving more expensive interventions from social care at a later point.
Whilst this project is about developing a community owned digital platform, there is the potential to explore how the digital solution to connect communities with information results in innovations in the provision of adult social care, and the services that are commissioned in the future.
User Research Report
Alongside the business case, we will be able to publish our user research report, to evidence the demand for a co-produced digital solution, and the learning from our approach.
By March, we will have arrived at an evidence-led conclusion including recommendations for next steps which will be shared with others.
The collaborative and ambitious nature of this project means that it will have multiple users and stakeholders across our partnership. These include:
- Community and voluntary groups
- Engaging citizens and their carers / family members who communicate for them
- Operational teams in the public sector and third sector
We will engage with these stakeholders through a series of workshops and hackathons to ensure that co-production is at the centre of how we develop and prototype digital solutions to the problem we are seeking to address.
Advice and guidance on recommended specialists/consultants, to add to our own list would be helpful during the procurement process.
We can confirm that we have not been granted funding for this project in the past.