For our Global Local edition on the impact of technology on social care, this article explores a case study from London’s Bi-Borough (The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council) and the tech organisation OLM.
In 2018, the London Bi-Borough set itself the ambitious goal of being the number one SEND service in the country. Today, they are acknowledged for consistently high performance and according to a recent Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Area Inspection, they currently have ‘no areas for improvement for education’ – so perhaps they’re not too far off that ambitious target after all.
This is the story of how technology made a big difference by helping to deliver effective SEND services through the implementation of a case management solution called ECLIPSE.
The Bi-Borough launched a programme in 2018 to co-ordinate statutory assessment processes for more than 2,000 children and young people (aged 0-25) with special education needs and/or disabilities. The programme enabled the direction, management, and performance reporting to be undertaken through a common set of procedures, whilst assessments were then undertaken within the framework of governance of each authority.
Leading disruptive change at such scale and pace needed action, quick decision-making, and a comprehensive technology solution to support the change – that is where ECLIPSE came into play. The aim was to deliver one service across two boroughs, using one system, with a vision to be one of the best SEND services in the country.
The overall outcome certainly seems to have been recognised, for example, both the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council have received positive Ofsted reports since the implementation and their performances for statutory timescales ranked within the top 10 nationally.
In the beginning, the Bi-Borough faced major challenges. Nationally, SEND services were encouraged to rethink delivery models to respond to growing financial pressures, rising demand for provision, and the need for earlier identification and interventions for children and young people with SEND.
Internally, data management and reporting were largely manual and time intensive. Processes needed to be more efficient and business intelligence improved, to both enable social workers more time to engage with children, young people and their families, and to improve data access to better support their needs.
To deliver better digital care, and address the external and internal challenges, a digital strategy was implemented to improve service delivery and replace multiple legacy systems.
Further down the line, and once the digital strategy was already in place, another challenge fast emerged as the pandemic hit the world. However, luckily by this point, the Bi-Borough had already implemented ECLIPSE which meant they were able to quickly overcome some of the issues that other local authorities faced during this time in moving to remote and then hybrid ways of working.
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To make case management digital, OLM was awarded a contract to implement ECLIPSE; an innovative case management solution with the adaptability to evolve alongside any changes in strategy or statutory requirements.
The implementation of ECLIPSE enabled the Bi-Borough’s SEND services to record and access over one thousand data points on a child or young person. This included:
- Case profiles;
- Primary need data;
- Financial information;
- Attendance data;
- And, progress against outcomes.
It means that families no longer have to repeat their story time and time again, as the history, plan and status of each case were now visible in one place for any member of staff with access immediately.
“The introduction of ECLIPSE has further enabled joined-up working and the delivery of better outcomes; it’s an innovative, cost-effective solution that allows SEN Officers and managers to access the right information at the right time,” explains Julie Ely, Assistant Director of SEND.
The cloud-native solution supports integrated case recording and enables staff to work anywhere, anytime, and record and access data from any device – a feature which was imperative to a smooth service during the pandemic.
Gareth Copeland, Education Consultant at OLM, stated:
“The project was a fantastic opportunity to bring modern technology and flexible case management to a market which is often overlooked. The flexibility of ECLIPSE meant we were able build a system from the Bi-Borough “to be” process ideas very quickly, a small dedicated team helped shape the system that they are still using to this day.”
Following the implementation of ECLIPSE, data has shown time savings of more than 10,000 hours per year (with a value of approx. £240,000) have been achieved. These savings include areas such as digitising management decisions through the system, the production of data and performance metrics, and reductions in administration efforts.
Julie shares: “It’s more than just a tool for the individual officer. As a management tool, I can easily review case files and l can contrast and compare usage levels which help me know whether there is anyone who needs further support.”
During Covid-19, and since ECLIPSE went live, the Bi-Borough has also maintained 100% performance of assessment cases completed on time, compared to a rate of 70 – 80% previously (which was still above the national average of 60%).
“We’re a high performing authority and part of that success is attributed to the tools we use,” states Julie.
With staff retention and recruitment a challenge for many local authorities, staff wellbeing is a number one priority at the Bi-Borough and feedback from a staff survey asking whether they feel they have the right tools for the job showed really positive praise for ECLIPSE.
In addition, the Bi-Borough also has an SEN officer in place who is the service lead for ECLIPSE with the responsibility to run reports, inductions, analyse quality data and even provide master classes, if needed, to ensure the Bi-Borough could be self-sufficient internally.
Reflecting on the results of the project, Julie is keen to continue sharing their positive experience through using ECLIPSE with other local authorities.
“We’re pleased to be continuing to deliver a 100% completion rate for statutory assessments within timescale (excluding exceptions) but undoubtedly the biggest positive outcome has been a saving in time and resources to produce the DfE’s SEN2 return. We are now able to extract all the information required directly through ECLIPSE saving hours of work which would otherwise be redirected from frontline service delivery.
Currently, we are not using ECLIPSE to full capacity, there is additional functionality to explore, such as providing access to service users. This will be taken forward once we have the right capacity in place to drive further progress.”