Feature

Electronic records help speed social workers’ response to emergencies

Smart projects: System gives Dudley social workers faster access to information

Social workers at Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council are responding more quickly to emergencies after introducing electronic social care records for all new clients.

Having all the information for a client in one record has enabled social workers to react to emergencies involving people under their care more quickly, said the West Midlands council.

Electronic social care records were introduced with little disruption to social workers because existing business processes were largely left alone, the council said.

The process for handling incoming documents remained the same as it had done before electronic care records. If incoming documents triggered a procedure under the old system, such as a visit from a social worker, they continued to do so under the new one.

After working with a social care client, the social worker’s notes and the triggering document are scanned into the electronic record. Previously, the notes would be added to a paper record.

The care records are held on the Swift social care management system from supplier Anite. Dudley also uses Anite@Work as its electronic document management system for social services. Integration is provided by middleware from Fiorano.

The system lets social workers add to or view the records from any networked council device.

Dudley Council has been able to create new care records across its social services departments since October last year. Although the council believes that its social workers are making more informed interventions, it said it was too early to put a figure on how much service has improved. Efficiency gains have also yet to be calculated.

Social care records are currently set up by specialist input clerks, but the council plans to make the maintenance of records and the addition of new documents the responsibility of social workers. If it succeeds, the council will need fewer back-office social services staff.

Further efficiency savings are expected through no longer having to file, retrieve, review, photocopy and store paper documents.


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This was first published in June 2006

 

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