The value of mobile in social care

A continued drive towards more mobile public services is needed to help overcome social care challenges in the biting winter months, says David McKinney, Managing Director of Local Government at Servelec

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We understand that the challenges facing the public sector are staggering. Councils have declared they’re facing a £3bn COVID-19 funding gap. Even some of the largest local authorities may effectively go bankrupt unless the government agrees to provide further support – in particular, to address the well-documented social care shortfall in funding of recent years.

More than ever, we know that council teams are focusing on finding ways to drive efficiencies and explore cost saving opportunities, while maintaining the vital services they deliver to citizens. Mobile tech has really come into its own, as social workers adapt to carry out their important work under the most unusual of circumstances.

More trouble ahead?

As well as a funding shortfall, it’s clear that social care is facing a further set of challenges in the coming months, with the recent Social Workers Union (SWU) survey revealing that a third of social workers are considering quitting the profession in the wake of COVID-19.

The research has highlighted the impact of working through the pandemic on practitioners’ mental health. Social workers also reported concerns about the use of virtual contact, with 49% saying this had not been appropriate for most of the people they work with.

Bridging the gap with mobile tech

Since the survey was carried out, SWU, on behalf of the 13,000 social workers across the UK it represents, has called for a six-point plan to tackle the issues raised. One of the points is a better balance between online and offline support for service users, with SWU calling for employers to arrange outreach enabling social workers to meet with service users in locations in a physically distanced way.

We’re listening, and we’ve been working together with social care teams to improve their access to the right information at the point of care.

Mosaic Mobilise, our intuitive mobile app, is designed to provide key information to professionals, wherever they are. It gives social workers access to vital information and the flexibility to update care records while in the community.

Digital resources are becoming much more widely used in the social care sector, and mobile social care case management is a way of mixing social care with technology. Mosaic Mobilise is a user-friendly app, so very little training is required.

Forms and case notes can be recorded and synced automatically to a local authority’s social care case management system, saving time and reducing the risk of delayed and inaccurate recording.

The five Cs driving mobile benefits

  • Capacity: At a time where our social care resources are the most overstretched, mobile apps are helping to increase capacity, without adding to workloads. Social workers can complete work at the point of service delivery and can spend less time working out of hours typing up notes and updating next actions. This creates a better work life balance, improves job satisfaction, and allows them to spend more quality time with the people they’re supporting and their families.
  • Consistency: Case notes, forms and workflow are recorded and synced automatically, using the app. Unlike paper notes, these can’t be lost or misplaced. All data is stored instantly and updated into the social care case management system. Information can also be updated throughout the day, so social workers always have access to the most up to date details.
  • Compliance: Information is fully encrypted both on and offline and is sent securely to and from the Mobilise app. It also makes a bring your own device policy possible as security is inbuilt.
  • Carbon footprint: Mobile can help to minimise unnecessary travel. It also shows where social workers are based on their last status change so the closest, most relevant worker can be sent to any visits that come in during the day.
  • Cost: All of the above points will play a part in improving efficiencies and in turn, easing the financial strain. Fewer unnecessary journeys, an empowered and productive workforce, and a joined-up, modern and structured way of working will all help to reduce future costs.

Progressing public sector change

Ultimately, we know that mobile technology helps to support social workers in their roles so they can deliver better support – securing access to case details whether at the desk or on the road, and helping to provide a more structured service based on a person’s current needs.

An efficient social care workforce means that more people can receive the care they need, when they need it; and accurate information means there’s less likely to be mistakes, resulting in more positive outcomes.

What’s been incredibly encouraging to see, and be part of in recent months, is the acceleration towards the digitalisation of public services. The progress the public sector has made since March has been phenomenal. We’ve seen local authorities move to remote working and use paperless processes more than ever before, helping them to continue delivering core services to citizens across the UK.

In the coming months, it’s crucial that technology providers like us work together with local government to overcome the social care challenges that lie ahead, and we believe that mobile social care case management is one of the best ways to do that.

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