Nottinghamshire Social Services has introduced a £7m care system that allows staff to access social care records from council and healthcare offices around the county.
The system, called Framework, came into full use last month after the transfer of social care records for children was completed at the end of January. Adult records were transferred last year. So far, 2,500 council staff have been trained to use the system.
Rob Allerton, programme manager for the council's IT modernisation programme, said, "It was a 'must-do' project. The government said councils must implement electronic social care records, and that has been achieved." The programme required hardware and network upgrades at 130 council sites, he said.
The success of the implementation depended on it not being viewed as an IT project, Allerton said. "I wanted it to be owned by the business, not the IT department. We wanted to get social workers using computers in the front end of their work, rather than the back end where they file records on the system at the end of the day."
Nottinghamshire worked with software supplier CoreLogic to modify its care case management product to meet the council's working patterns. It provides workflow, tracking of cases and plans for future work tailored to social workers' needs.
"This drives them through the delivery to the service user," Allerton said.
"We tried to get as many business people as possible involved with the project from the start. Bringing them in allowed individual processes to be mapped and allowed us to configure the system to those processes. It now fits what people do on the ground."
The managers who worked on the business processes also conducted training so staff would see how relevant the system was to their work. "Instead of chasing paper files, social workers can go into any social care site in the county and access any records," Allerton said. Eventually the system will be capable of linking with the NHS's national programme for IT, he added.
Aligning business processes
A project team of operational and IT staff was formed to review all social work processes with a view to redesigning how the business of the department is conducted. The team has worked closely with CoreLogic - supplier of Framework, the newly-developed integrated information system - to align the new processes with the new software to ensure the two are integrated and support one another.
Network drives upgrade and training
A countywide network linking all 130 Social Services sites together was installed. This was followed by the replacement of about 2,000 old computers with new equipment and office programs. More than 2,000 staff received basic training in the new software which allowed them to use any computer on any site to access e-mail and work files.