Lewisham Council is piloting electronic records so that departments can share information about the people who use multiple local authority services.
The London borough council's older adults and hospital teams provide services to the same people, but they work in different locations and have built up two different sets of social care records.
The adoption services team at Lewisham Council is also piloting social care records that run on an underlying electronic document management system.
The council wants to use electronic records as its means of storing people's social care information for the long term.
Adoption services is also piloting electronic records because it needs to share information securely between social workers and respond quickly to requests for information from clients.
In March 2005, the council proved that electronic social care records could be transferred securely across its IT infrastructure and integrated with its transactional systems. The standalone care records technology was designed, built, tested and delivered by the end of last year.
The three departments have been using the electronic social care record pilots to discover how sharing client information can improve business processes.
Lewisham Council said, "The electronic social care record has provided a proven infrastructure that is ready for other parts of the council to exploit. There is a toolkit of facilities that is available for departments to apply to other applications."
The toolkit is also available to other councils as a free download.
Both social workers and the council's back-office support staff have been able to find relevant documents more speedily.
The council said, "Documents are available immediately, improving the assessment process and reducing potential delays. This will improve performance in some areas, such as when a service user can only be moved from hospital care to discharge if the receiving team has the people and documents in place to do so."
Lewisham's older adults team is also trialling a system to capture information using mobile devices.
Social workers still have to manually re-enter data collected using the mobile devices because there is no integration between the mobile application and the electronic social care record.
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This was first published in July 2006