What we are seeing: a rapid scale up of people needing social care
COVID-19 has driven a rapid expansion of people needing care after being discharged from hospital. Additionally, we are seeing how those in a vulnerable group who were advised to stay at home for a prolonged period of time is resulting in isolation. The resultant loneliness is causing mental health issues, as well as other health issues such as people forgetting to take their medication.
This is compounding the challenges to organisations who provide care across the NHS, Local Government and Private Sector, in an already under-strain industry.
We are in awe of the practical response to these issues by local communities and volunteers who started to solve some of the immediate problems by doing what they could pragmatically and as safely as they could.
However, we wanted to enable safer and more formal arrangements to be put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all individuals, and support Local Authorities and the Health Sector who do not have the technology or capacity to respond to these needs.
What we are doing: enabling the delivery of care remotely, quickly and at scale, using Cloud enabled Digital Services
We are working in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to rapidly develop and deliver automated services to enable the remote delivery of social care at scale. We are doing this quickly to respond to the urgent needs of citizens that have been driven by the pandemic. For example, working closely with our clients, we have been able to take their requirements and deploy our services in one week, enabling them to look after their geographically dispersed individuals under their care.
We have only been able to deliver this by leveraging the power of Cloud Services. For our Digital Service, we chose to configure and deploy the Amazon Connect service to automate the wellbeing check and triage of individual’s needs via a simple phone call.
The tool will assess if an individual needs to be put in touch with the relevant Council professional to discuss their specific needs in detail, or if the individual is feeling lonely they will be automatically scheduled to have regular calls with a volunteer. If the individual doesn’t require either of these services, the tool will offer to automate and schedule a regular check-in with them on a weekly basis, in-line with HM Government guidance.
Our tool is increasing the independence and wellbeing of vulnerable individuals during this pandemic, whilst providing confidence to the care organisation that the individual is safe in their own home (and can self-isolate). It also helps to avoid the likelihood of the individual developing Covid-19, potentially avoiding unnecessary health and care costs.
For Local Authorities and Care Organisations, our tool helps them manage risk effectively by prioritising use of limited staff capacity to focus their time on individuals with the highest need, ensuring that all individuals are reached and information is captured in a systematic way.
Please watch this video to find out more about our tool.
What we learnt: how Cloud Services delivered one tool quickly, that is adapted for multiple user groups and is scalable to respond to the changing demands of the pandemic
Our automated tool is already supporting the delivery of remote social care to two user groups, namely, users who are discharged from hospital rapidly without appropriate care in place and supporting the wellbeing of users identified by HM Government as “Shielded” individuals.
We have already cleared some Local Authorities backlog of contacting their “Shielded” individuals and ensuring those that needed it got the right support. We did this 12x faster than it would have taken them using a normal call centre solution, reducing the need for these individuals to be contacted by a human call operator by 92%, and ensuring the council focussed on the 20% of individuals that were most in need.
By using Cloud Services, as well as being able to deploy quickly and decommission or transition to BAU within days, we are also able to scale our tool up and down (vertically) to respond to the daily changes in user numbers we are seeing.
Additionally, we are seeing the need to adapt our tool as other needs of the population become apparent or individual needs change as a result of the pandemic. For example, we already have a working prototype to support employees and employers manage their post-lockdown “Return to Work” initiatives.
What comes next: the pandemic will change the way Digital Services are designed and delivered in the future
The industry was moving towards more automation before the pandemic hit the world. What has changed almost overnight are people’s perception of automation technologies, the power of cloud, and how linking services and processes together deliver real benefits to users at pace.
As we support HM Government and the UK population through these difficult times, we remain hopeful that we will use the lessons learned to continue to build a positive human future, together.
Sam Charters is a public sector expert at PA Consulting.