The challenges facing the public sector are staggering. Councils are facing a £3bn COVID-19 funding gap. Even some of the largest local authorities may effectively go bankrupt unless the government agrees to provide further support – in particular, to address the well-documented social care shortfall in funding of recent years.
More than ever, we know that council teams are focusing on finding ways to drive efficiencies and explore cost saving opportunities, while maintaining the vital services they deliver to citizens. In recent months, mobile tech has really come into its own, as social workers adapt to carrying out their important work under the most unusual of circumstances and entirely remotely.
What’s been incredibly encouraging to see, and be part of in recent months, is the acceleration towards the digitalisation of public services. The progress the public sector has made since March has been phenomenal. We’ve seen local authorities move to remote working and use paperless processes more than ever before, helping them to continue delivering core services to citizens across the UK.
Digital resources are becoming much more widely used in local government, and in particular, the social care sector. Over the coming months, technology providers will need to work very closely with social care teams to improve their access to the right information at the point of care.
Going mobile now, and beyond COVID
Mobile solutions are designed to provide key information to professionals, wherever they are. It gives social care workers access to vital information and the flexibility to update care records while in the community. Forms and case notes can be recorded and synced automatically to a local authority’s social care case management system, saving time and reducing the risk of delayed and inaccurate recording. The five Cs driving mobile benefits in social care, are:
Capacity: At a time where our social care resources are the most overstretched, mobile apps are helping to increase capacity, without adding to workloads. Social workers can complete work at the point of service delivery and can spend less time working out of hours typing up notes and updating records. This allows them to spend more time building relationships and ultimately improving outcomes for the adults, children and families they are supporting. It also helps to create a better work life balance for social care workers, improving their levels of job satisfaction and supporting staff retention.
Consistency: Case notes, forms and workflow are recorded and synced automatically, using mobile apps. Unlike paper notes, these cannot be lost or misplaced. All data is stored instantly and updated into the social care case management system once the device is connected to the internet. Information available on the device can also be updated throughout the day, so social workers and their managers have access to the most up to date details, supporting them to make safer decisions on cases.
Compliance: Information is fully encrypted both on and offline and is sent securely to and from an app. It also makes a ‘bring your own device’ policy possible as security is inbuilt.
Carbon footprint: Mobile can help to minimise unnecessary travel by enabling social care workers to complete work whilst they are out in the community without the need to return to an office base to update their records. It also shows where social workers are based on their last status change so the closest, most relevant worker can attend any urgent visits that may come in during the day
Cost: All of the above points will play a part in improving efficiencies and in turn, easing the financial strain. Fewer unnecessary journeys, an empowered and productive workforce and a joined-up, modern and structured way of working, will all help to reduce future costs but crucially also enable social care workers to provide a better and more responsive service to the people they are supporting.
Driving mobile innovation in 2021
Ultimately, we know that mobile technology helps to support social care workers in their roles so they can deliver better support – securing access to case details whether at the desk or on the road and helping to provide a more structured service based on a person’s current needs.
An efficient social care workforce means that more people can receive the care they need, when they need it; and accurate information means less mistakes, resulting in better decision making and more positive outcomes.
In the coming months, it’s crucial that technology providers like us work together with local government to tackle the social care challenges that lie ahead, and we believe that mobile social care case management is one of the best ways to do that.
David McKinney is managing director of local government at Servelec