The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster City Council, known as London’s Bi-Borough, adopted a collaborative approach to drive transformation in 2018 with the ambition of being the number one SEND service in the country; a target which has been accomplished.
Today, it’s upholding consistently high performance and maintaining its well-earned status. The SEN Service team acknowledges its next-generation case management solution has been pivotal to its successful transformation journey, and continues to be integral to maintaining well-regarded SEND services; supporting more than 2,000 children and young people with special educational needs and/or disability aged 0 -25 across the borough.
At the beginning of the transformation journey, 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.
To deliver better service, and address the external and internal challenges, a digital strategy was at the heart of the business case to improve service delivery and replace multiple legacy systems. Multiple legacy systems in the SEND service at the time created many difficulties, particularly relating to access and efficiency. Data management and reporting were largely manual and time intensive.
Processes needed to be more efficient and business intelligence improved, to both enable SEN case officers more time to engage with children, young people and their families, and to improve data access to better support their needs. Every child has a different story and the Bi-Borough needed technology to capture that story, but also to inform its strategy at a local authority level.
Further down the line, and once the digital strategy was already in place, another challenge fast emerged as the pandemic hit the world. However, by this point, the Bi-Borough had already implemented next generation case management solution, ECLIPSE from OLM, as part of its digital transformation journey which meant it was quickly able to overcome some of the issues that other local authorities faced during this time in moving to remote and then hybrid ways of working.
- largely manual data recording
- time intensive processes
- multiple legacy systems
- inability to share data quickly or easily
- staff feeling unhappy with systems
- increase in service users
- rising financial pressures.
The existing technology was not able to support SEND services in the way needed. It hadn’t evolved at the same rate as the changes experienced in children’s SEND services and hence it was an area for prioritisation.
As the right digital tools were not in place to transform the experience for staff or service users, this was having a knock-on effect across many areas. Therefore, to make case management digital, the Bi-Borough implemented ECLIPSE from OLM; an innovative, flexible, and cost-effective case management solution with the adaptability to evolve alongside any changes in strategy or statutory requirements.
Implemented a full month ahead of schedule, the case management solution now enables the Bi-Borough’s SEND services to record and access over one thousand data points on a child or young person. This includes case profile, 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 is visible in one place for any member of staff with access immediately.
The cloud-native solution supports integrated case recording and enables SEN officers and managers to work anywhere, anytime, and record and access data from any device; a feature which was imperative to a smooth service during the pandemic and continues to be used.
Interestingly, the Bi-Borough actually started from the position that this was not an IT project, but instead a change management project led by non-IT people; and it has been a huge success.
Time savings of more than 10,000 hours per year, with a value of approx. £240,000, have been achieved following the implementation of the case management solution. These savings include areas such as digitising management decisions through the system, the production of data and performance metrics, and reductions in administration efforts.
It’s also more than just a tool for the individual officer. It is used as a management tool, to easily review case files and contrast and compare usage levels which enables management to establish whether there is anyone who needs further support. Furthermore, the solution is so intuitive that agency staff get up-to-speed quickly, which usage stats accessible to management.
The bi-Borough is a high performing authority and part of that success is attributed to the tools it uses. During Covid, 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 per cent previously (which was still above the national average of 60 per cent).
Additionally, with staff retention and recruitment a challenge for many local authorities, staff wellbeing is a number one priority. Staff surveys are undertaken to establish whether staff feel they have the right tools to do the job, and everyone values the case management solution. It makes the whole process quicker and more efficient, and this impacts how staff feel at work.
The Bi-Borough even has an SEN officer in place who is service lead for the case management solution; the go-to person who runs reports, inductions, analyses quality data, and even provides master classes on how to use the solution.
- one system instead of multiple systems
- facilitates remote working
- enables joined-up working & improves collaboration
- 100 per cent of assessments completed on time
- 10,000 hours saved per year on administrative tasks
- staff highly satisfied with case management solution
- simple & easy to use
- supports management decision-making
- improves data quality
- adaptable & flexible for future.
How is the new approach being sustained?
For the Bi-Borough this is a long-term, flexible solution that will grow and evolve and is adaptable as the strategy and national statutory requirements change.
The London Bi-Borough is breaking new ground in SEND, data is not only available to decision-makers within the local authorities, but it will also offer insight to partners to inform their own strategies to respond to environmental challenges. This is helping to build the foundations for a bright future for SEND in the Bi-Borough and continue its journey to provide the number one SEND service in the country.
The team is proud of its achievements and hope this demonstrates what is possible through digital transformation. It continues to share best practice, to help shape other local authority strategies.
- digital case management brings significant savings and efficiencies to the SEND service
- non-IT people can deliver successful IT projects.
- a supportive, response supplier is key
- securing buy-in and involvement from stakeholders is key to the project’s success
- regular communication and change management with teams is essential.
Julie Ely, assistant director of SEND [email protected]