Social Care Analytics

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Social Care Analytics – A major challenge, but there is a successful path to follow.

Local and Regional Government professional bodies and inspection/assurance bodies are all now highlighting that one of the biggest challenges the sector faces is effectively, efficiently and securely harnessing real insight from data. LGA, Solace, Ofsted, CQC, National Audit Office Wales and many others are all clear in their messaging that Local Authorities have a long journey ahead to becoming data-driven organisations and there is little time to waste in getting started.

In Social Care the data issue is especially pertinent because of the levels of spend and the scale of risk in delivery and commissioning. In nearly every, if not all tier 1 Councils, ASC will be the highest area of spend and CSC the highest area of risk. Yet in our experience of working on the ground in these services, they operate with little to no analysed insight every day. We regularly come across ASC and CSC teams that highlight to us that they really have no daily insight into what they are spending across different types of provision, for which customers, what the current levels of demand look like, what the quality of service is and what the impact is of all the effort they are going to. This is despite these services having sizeable teams of report writers working for them.

In part, the problem is down to variable data, which sits in many different systems and other sources like spreadsheets and ageing databases. In our work with these teams, we find that most Social Care teams need data from anywhere between 5-15 data sources for business-critical insight and therefore huge amounts of resources are wasted just manually extracting and cleansing data. However, just as big an issue exists in the organisational capability to turn data into usable insight.

We find lots of report writers who can fill a table full of numbers and send it to a Director or Head of Service but few, if any, that are analysing data and presenting a visual insight into what is happening in their service. This is even the case when predominantly only taking data from one system such as the main case management system, the reports are still just data sheets and nothing more. The onus is then on some of the busiest managers and leaders in local government to analyse the rows of numbers they are presented with.

Simply deploying any new analytical tool to these report writers is unlikely to solve the insight gap. In our experience, most existing report writers don’t think like analysts and they have also become very removed from the actual services and don’t understand what the service is trying to achieve. We encounter too many ‘unconscious’ report-writers in Social Car, people who just churn out the same stuff in the same tabular numeric format, the use of which is completely unclear. This breakdown isn’t down to any individual, it’s about a lack of investment over a long period in professional analysts and the right tools for them to use, as well as real clarity from Social Care on what they are trying to achieve and where insights can help those goals.

To shift this, there needs to be a game changing approach, not just more investment in old ways of doing things. With itelligent-i this has never just been about installing a platform or rolling out Power BI or any other tool. We have tackled these issues in the past through major transformational programmes based on holistic improvement in line with our proven Information Strategy Methodology and continue to do so today. However, we recognise that time isn’t on the side of most Social Care teams who just need daily analytical insights for their decision makers right now. Therefore, in 2018 we came up with a new way to change the game – our ‘starter packs’

Today, we have a complete range of starter packs for Adults and Children’s and a range of other Council Services. They are what they say, ready built visual, interactive and automated Microsoft Power BI dashboards and reports that cover many of the major insight needs. Starter Packs are designed to offer CSC and ASC daily descriptive and diagnostic analytics on demand, supply, spend, customers, impact and performance in each of their key delivery areas. The starter packs get over the issue of handing a reporting team an analytical tool and expecting them to become analysts with no other investment. They have been developed by our analysts on the ground with ASC and CSC service teams. Every one of our social care dashboards and reports has been built with and is live with an LA customer.

This changes the game by shifting quickly from tables and numbers to automated, interactive, visual insights without having to immediately tackle the capability of the reporting team, so you can get great insights to Social Service decision makers without the inevitable development drag. Services and report writers can also see what good looks like in swiftly built multi-layered analytics. If a Council identifies they have people that they want to develop, we often deliver these starter packs in parallel with our Learning Transition Pathway which provides people with the technical know-how on using Power BI to create reports and dashboards.

Our starter-packs can be attached to any Social Care case management system and all the ancillary data sources that Social Care teams are using, and, as they will be fully automated once developed, decision makers will be able to interact with updated insights every day. The data challenge is realistically a huge opportunity and one Social Care teams can begin to seize right now.

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