Councils in England are being swamped with thousands of requests for adult social care every day. The system is at breaking point, not just because of funding constraints, but also because the current setup is inefficient. Social workers simply aren’t able to spend their time in the most effective way to best serve the people in their communities.
Haringey Council decided to act. Facing the ‘terrible trio’ of an ageing population, increasing complexity of needs and a decreasing budget, they asked us to help them improve care for their residents, at the same time as improving the efficiency of their department.
But this isn’t just another story about cost-reduction in the public sector. This was about productivity, engagement and trying something totally new. Haringey has a diverse mix of workers across many locations, so the fundamental answer lay in improving connectivity among them, freeing up time to give attention to the more complex cases.
At the heart of the solution was a new digital application – PerformPlus – built in conjunction with the social workers themselves. This allowed us to unite them as a team for the first time. The technology we built for Haringey was totally new, which took bravery from PwC and from the council. We had never applied our performance coaching approach to social care before, so we were co-developing the technology for the new digital tool as we went. The leadership from the council, engagement from their frontline teams and rigour brought by us came together to deliver a truly outstanding outcome – for the council, and more importantly for the people of Haringey.
A year later, over 90% of social workers at Haringey use the approach and digital tool daily; well above any conceivable target. Haringey has transformed the level of engagement with the adult social care service too, through combining the coaching and digital tool in the delivery of its services to the community. Internally, there’s been an incredible uptake of capability-building thanks to the tool – teams want to improve; a culture shift no one expected would be quite so powerful.
We’ve really achieved digitally-enabled collaborative working. Teams communicate in ways that hadn’t been possible before. This means that frontline social care teams interact with other teams, breaking down long-standing barriers, and the tiers of leadership are now visible to each other, creating transparent communication. This transparency makes it easier for everyone to understand and share best practice, and encourages collective problem-solving in areas of greatest need. This is a total transformation from the previous way of working.
What’s more, we realised that any organisation with a dispersed workforce will be facing similar issues, so we’ve since taken this pioneering work to a number of other councils across the UK. Social care leaders are keen to see how it could have an equally positive effect on their own services, and we’re proud to be working alongside them to make it happen.
View the PwC profile in the MCA Members Directory.