Exploring modernising the Adult Social Care referral process to minimise inappropriate referrals and improve the customer journey, managing demand and reducing turnaround time for the right help and service at the point of referral.

Full Application: Not funded at this stage

We will work with social care professionals to interpret the thresholds for adult social care as set out in the care act into tailored questions designed to capture the information that professionals need to make a decision, whilst also ensuring that those people who do not meet the eligibility for adult social care but do have some support needs are swiftly routed to community asset based support. The aim is to reduce the amount of wasted time that is evident in the existing process, for both professionals and our residents in receiving an assessment. The aim is to also make the referral process into adult social care more transparent and easier to navigate. This will also improve the customer experience and enable residents to quickly access the right support for them from the right source.

Once the prototype is complete we will conduct testing with key partners who will be using the tool to ensure that it is accurate and easy to use both from a professional and service end user point of view. We will continue to research referral patterns in particular looking at patterns in inappropriate referrals and develop the tool to ensure that these are appropriately signposted to the correct service.

At launch, we will collect feedback electronically from our professionals using a tool such as Atlassian Jira and customer service will follow-up the experience of resident over the phone. This will enable us to gauge both the physical use of the tool and the customer experiences.

The real benefit of this tool is that the mechanism is based at the front end so it can be used by any council, regardless of their back office system. This will also be valuable in the testing phase as our partner LAs can use the dev URL to conduct their own testing with a view to us then coming together at the end of the tests phases to analyse our results and further improve the tool.

The common issue across adult social care is that the referral process and the accompanying eligibility thresholds for Adult Social Care are not always clear, particularly to those not working in Adult Social Care. Often the only way to access services is via a referral and these referral forms do not always capture the right information to enable professionals to make a timely decision, this results in a considerable amount of time spent chasing missing information and redirecting referrals to the right place.

Moreover, for our customers the journey into Adult Social Care can be confusing and approximately 56% of all contacts result in no service or are linked to existing cases (ASC dashboard ytd aug 19) and do not result in an intervention; in addition to this the time frame between referral and assessment means that for some, they can enter the system via a referral only to be informed weeks later that the referral was inappropriate and other services would be more suitable. We want to remove this factor and ensure that for every referral the person receives the right help at the right time and from the right service.

We have conservatively estimated that an average of 73 hours per month are spent processing referrals, this can involve chasing information, chasing referrers and redirecting inappropriate referrals.

For Telford & Wrekin Council, this equates to 14.6 hours of officer time per officer per month.

The fiscal benefits for Telford & Wrekin Council are conservatively estimated to be 52k within 24 months. Furthermore the socioeconomic benefits will be delivered by a 50% reduction in inappropriate referrals, in translation this means on average, 73 customers each month will be provided with a quicker service and will be signposted to the most suitable provision whilst those that have a clear need for Adult Social Care are referred directly into the front door where their referral is processed and sent to the correct Adult Social Care team, all within 24 hours (during business hours mon-fri 9-5).

For our partners in Brent the figures are slightly higher as they spend on average 3 hours per referral for an average of 646 referrals per month. In addition to this only 36% of those referrals are passed to the care planning team for intervention.

For Microsoft Dynamics CRM users the online tool will automatically push the referral into CRM, creating a new customer record and alerting the team that a new referral has arrived; this further reduces current processing times as officers do not have to input the referral details into the back office system, and allows us to maintain a single view of customer interactions.

Further efficiencies are planned with our local GP partners as we aim to build the referral tool into their EMIS system, this will pre-populate any patient demographic details, saving time for GP’s and practice nurses and allowing them more time to provide good quality, important information on the referral rather than having to spend time completing patient demographics.

The efficiencies of this tool will be ongoing; we will continue to evolve the tool as we build our community assets, furthermore the relinquished officer time can be reinvested into our Adult Social Care front door functionality.  Customers who are not initially indicated as meeting the eligibility criteria for a Care Act assessment will be redirected to our online booking solution, where they can schedule an appointment with an Adult Social Care professional in their local hub.

We will work collaboratively, taking an agile approach with our partners using tools such as Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business, as well as the more traditional methods such as e-mail and telephony. We also aim to meet in person at regular intervals over the duration of the project. We have worked with partner LAs on other large projects and have found that a combination of virtual and physical meetings allow the project to progress at a good pace.

Software deliverables will be provisioned in a code repository, such as GitHub, to improve transparency and allow faster product iterations.

Strategic governance will be in place via virtual and physical meetings, we will develop a clear terms of reference and put in place escalation procedures to ensure that the project actions are fulfilled.

We will use a recognised project management methodology to allocate project roles to ensure we maintain pace with the project. These project roles will be allocated to officers from each partner LA.

We would welcome support from the local digital collaboration unit and would ensure that we make use of the training made available to us via the MHCLG.

We would continue to utilise the Slack forum to network and collaborate with colleagues sharing best practice and lessons learnt as our project progresses.