Initiatives in Care Ltd

Current Reports

Social Work IT - 2018

Without a doubt, 2018 will present another period of substantial challenges in social care, both in Adults and Children’s Services over the next two-three years. The impact of increasing demands facing the NHS and Social Care services, combined with massive budget pressures inevitably constrains strategic planning and inhibits for example, new operational practices of intervention-led initiatives being more widely developed. Moreover, this climate of uncertainty shows little sign of easing in the foreseeable future.

In terms of what exists today, nationally, and locally with social care IT, there are millions of service users and families supported through case management systems, thousands of professional and administrative staff engaged, and billions of pounds of financial transactions to initiate, monitor and control.

However, in most cases, these systems are not managed as a strategic asset by Local Authorities [LA’s] and thus opportunities for enabling service innovation are being missed and added value from current investments are not being achieved.

Three main IT software suppliers in the sector provide 90% of case management systems solutions. The business of social care is absolutely dependent on these to function well; all suppliers need to be encouraged to be successful, because this is inevitably important to the on-going ‘success’ of social care. This first report concentrates on the facts and figures relating to them and identifying opportunities for the service to assess supplier capability and capacity, so as they can ‘future proof’ investment wherever possible.

To help inform this debate on future proofing and getting more from what already exists, this report describes the current ‘state of play’ in IT in the social care sector across three key areas; firstly, their market share, secondly a comment on financial aspects and finally, a brief narrative on technology innovation. Each area hopefully contributes information that councils ought to take into consideration when undertaking supplier assessment in terms of potentially changing suppliers, or performance management and quality control of existing suppliers.

Download a PDF of the report by clicking here>


Managing Change in the New Information Age

It is very likely that the highest priorities locally for social care directors are going to be elsewhere rather than IT. However, most servicedirectors would readily accept that they couldn't run their business operations successfully, without good quality case management systems. Recognising this significance is one thing; doing something significant about it is another.

This new report is a follow on to the report published in late 2012 [Social Work in the New Information Age] and is the first of a series of three; the second one is intended to focus more on service specific issues, and the final one will propose a set of solutions in both management and systems terms, for achieving higher returns on investment strategies, and how technology innovation will potentially benefit both councils and suppliers.

This report is a summary of the main changes in the IT case management systems supplier landscape that have occurred since 2011, and identifies that there has now been a substantive shift in the leadership positions, and a real possible loss of competition in the market place, both of which were predicted in the earlier report, but does conclude that steps could be taken to redress this, at relatively low cost.

The report is also timed to complement ADASS work that was developed in response to meeting the requirements of the new Care Bill, which has an express intention "to support the development of a market of innovative IT suppliers".

The aim is to inform Social Care Directors, Chief Information Officers and procurement teams, and to encourage them to re-evaluate their business and IT strategy in relation to the external risks for supporting the operational requirements of the Care Bill, and the changes in Children's Services IT requirements.

It is being made available to councils for internal use only, and to stimulate debate. It is not intended for commercial use, except where it has been agreed in advance with the author.

Download a PDF of the report by clicking here>


Social Work in the New Information Age

This is being made available to councils for internal use only and to stimulate debate. It is not intended for commercial use except where it has been agreed in advance with the author.

It has been developed to raise the profile of the emerging IT risks and challenges which will affect the two major service groups of Adults and Children’s Services in England. The report is mainly optimistic in its outlook for the future, and its aim is to encourage service directors and council Chief Information Officers to think about the new issues facing IT in social care and to signpost what they might have to do about them.

It is more likely that the highest priorities locally for social care directors is going to be elsewhere rather than IT, however, in terms of the context for IT in the service:

  • Most service directors would accept that they cannot run their business operations successfully without good quality core operational systems
  • In a wide range of settings, with better information, better decisions could be made, which will result in better service outcomes
  • We should be taking advantage of the considerable advances made in the personal technologies that are already in widespread, every day, use to improve the working practices of social workers and outcomes for service users.

The most recent survey of Directors attitudes towards IT in social care concluded that for their core operational systems, there was an almost absolute dependency by the service on a very small number of IT suppliers in the sector, and their capacity to provide innovative systems solutions for a large number of councils over a short space of time, was uncertain.

This position has not markedly improved, but a significant change programme across the two main service areas is now about to accelerate again, and these IT providers are currently focussed on maintaining market share and, generally, are not being performance managed by councils perhaps in the way that they should be. I believe this is creating a new form of risk in relation to successful service change.

The report comments that not all current suppliers in the sector can thrive and prosper and concludes that a closer dialogue with IT suppliers is essential to provide better systems solution in these challenging times, but councils need to be setting the strategic framework for them to be able to deliver against, rather than the current position of relying on IT suppliers to somehow be able to ‘second-guess’ what this might be.

Download a PDF of the report by clicking here>

Without a doubt, 2018 will present another period of substantial challenges in social care, both in Adults and Children’s Services over the next two-three years. The impact of increasing demands facing the NHS and Social Care services, combined with massive budget pressures inevitably constrains strategic planning and inhibits for example, new operational practices of intervention-led initiatives being more widely developed. Moreover, this climate of uncertainty shows little sign of easing in the foreseeable future.

In terms of what exists today, nationally, and locally with social care IT, there are millions of service users and families supported through case management systems, thousands of professional and administrative staff engaged, and billions of pounds of financial transactions to initiate, monitor and control.

However, in most cases, these systems are not managed as a strategic asset by Local Authorities [LA’s] and thus opportunities for enabling service innovation are being missed and added value from current investments are not being achieved.

Three main IT software suppliers in the sector provide 90% of case management systems solutions. The business of social care is absolutely dependent on these to function well; all suppliers need to be encouraged to be successful, because this is inevitably important to the on-going ‘success’ of social care. This first report concentrates on the facts and figures relating to them and identifying opportunities for the service to assess supplier capability and capacity, so as they can ‘future proof’ investment wherever possible.

To help inform this debate on future proofing and getting more from what already exists, this report describes the current ‘state of play’ in IT in the social care sector across three key areas; firstly, their market share, secondly a comment on financial aspects and finally, a brief narrative on technology innovation. Each area hopefully contributes information that councils ought to take into consideration when undertaking supplier assessment in terms of potentially changing suppliers, or performance management and quality control of existing suppliers.

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