Brain in Hand Blog: How counties are making the most of tech in social care

CCN Blogs | 10 February 2022

“I think the beauty of technology nowadays is that it connects different people from all different walks of life,” says Fadzai Tande, Senior Manager, Transition at Surrey County Council. “It gets rid of separatism, and I think this is what our society needs at the moment.”

It won’t come as news to anyone that support services are facing more challenges than ever. The world is changing, and the way care is delivered needs to change with it.

In Surrey, Fadzai and her team wanted to make sure they were listening to the young people they support. When they heard from their service users that they didn’t necessarily want to have a person with them all the time, they turned to digital support.

In many ways, the COVID pandemic has put the spotlight on some of the best qualities of digital technology: it can allow people to stay connected, to access spaces and services, even to keep working. Yet it’s still never been as fully adopted in mainstream support as it could be, despite the potential to deliver more effective, accessible, sustainable support. The fact is that making the most of this new avenue requires teams to change their way of working, and that can be a difficult thing to ask.

So, when the team in Surrey started thinking about how digital support could help people manage their own needs more independently, they knew there would be challenges and barriers to adoption. Their decision about which solution to employ had to be based on finding something that would be of genuine value to their young people, that could be delivered in their required timescales, and that would come with support from a supplier who would help them implement it in the best way possible for them.

Ultimately, the council chose to work with Brain in Hand, a digital support system that allows people to manage their own difficulties to develop independence while keeping them connected to help when they needed it. The Brain in Hand team brought their experience from supporting other local authorities to the project, working with the council’s staff to establish the required outcomes, who would be delivering each element, and how success would be measured.

When lockdown forced plans to change, the benefits of digital delivery began to shine. The two teams were able to work together to adapt the delivery route, pivoting to a model where all elements of support were delivered by Brain in Hand online and directly to end users, taking as much strain as possible off Surrey’s staff. Once the system was smoothly in place with this new model, Surrey’s teams could more effectively use it to support their work with users: monitoring wellbeing, reinforcing strategies, and targeting help where it was most needed.

The success of Surrey’s new digital support project was made possible by the partnership between the council and their supplier. Together they ensured that everything was in place early on. Everyone, from those working directly with service users right up to those responsible for funding pathways and clearing high-level issues, knew what their roles would be. Everyone was kept engaged and informed so problems could be quickly raised and resolved. And everyone understood what success would look like.

This kind of joint approach to digital support, with suppliers working closely with change-ready teams, can build systems that are sustainable, scalable, and of real value to both staff and service users. For more on best practice embedding digitally enabled support, download Brain in Hand’s full guide. It sets out all the steps to ensure the most successful project possible, brought to life with stories from teams who’ve done just that.

Mat Taylor, Commercial Director, Brain in Hand