Building a holistic view of adult social care at Bristol City Council

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Mark Carlile, Head of Public Sector at itelligent-i, looks at adult social care and the role of digital transformation in Bristol City Council

Bristol City Council recognises that digital transformation makes a real difference both to the way the council operates, but also to the lives of its citizens. More effective and efficient data collection, analysis and insights are required to better understand and make key decisions on where and how to spend taxpayer’s money for maximum efficiency and success in adult social care.

Adult social care is at the top of the local government agenda in terms of cost and outcomes because decisions made here have a significant and direct impact on the lives and well-being of individuals and communities. For this reason, it’s at the top of BCC’s digital transformation agenda. The council recognised it had to work smarter with the data that was available. Reports offered few insights and could not easily be channelled into decision-making processes in an effective, timely manner.

“Historically, the council’s data was held in separate silos in ways that prevented us from developing a comprehensive, holistic view across services,” explains Simon Oliver, director of digital transformation at Bristol City Council. “We had huge amounts of data and were investing huge amounts of resources in ad-hoc, manual data collection and reporting across departments. But when we looked at the time and effort invested, we realised that we simply were not getting value from it.”

The council undertook a corporate business intelligence review (CIBR) with itelligent-i to determine how best to align the council’s existing corporate strategy and its IT architecture to deliver an optimal solution that could drill down into data sets, cross reference them with ease and make faster, smarter decisions based upon the insights delivered.

Delivering data-driven insights

Becoming data-driven means implementing a data strategy – a pathway to bringing together information upon which to make ongoing decisions that simplify it, makes it less cumbersome and filters through daily business practices.

The Bristol City Council team collaborated closely with itelligent-i to the scope and build an insights platform that would bring together disparate data sets from care, finance and admin services. Using itelligent-i’s information strategy methodology and its suite of ‘Accelerators’, which encompass business intelligence reports developed with other leading adult social care teams across the UK, it honed the visual dashboards and reporting to the specific processes, environments and data for Bristol City Council.

The new data and insight platform for adult social care must operate on the Microsoft Azure platform to align with the council’s existing technology strategy and cloud solutions architecture. Itelligent-i brought together disparate data from across the service in new user-friendly dashboards where council employees could see what was happening immediately and could take a joined-up approach to service management channelled through the secure, automated data platform.

“Working with itelligent-i enabled us to overcome our lack of data-driven insights to start applying business intelligence in real-time,” explains Richard Hills, head of adult social care transformation & partnerships, Bristol City Council. “While providing adult social care is still a huge challenge, our leadership now has the day-to-day insights we need to be more proactive and agile in meeting people’s care needs while maximising their independence. We understand our service needs better and can deliver transformational projects more effectively.”

Bristol City Council has a much better understanding of its operations to make smarter decisions

It can monitor and track overall costs against the outcomes delivered and determine whether the council is getting value for money. The team has a single version of the truth, enhancing security and providing the council with greater flexibility and agility.

“We’re now able to take a more holistic view across the council to see where adult social care data has an impact on our wider activities. That’s a real bonus for us that we just didn’t have before,” states Guy Collins, head of insight, performance and intelligence at Bristol City Council.

With the sensitive personal data processed and analysed by the council, a robust approach to information management and cyber security has also been addressed. Working closely with the Centre for Data Ethics, itelligent-i has ensured that the council adopted an enterprise data management approach with strong governance, compliance, and security protocols to meet auditable standards.

Itelligent-i’s platform serves to streamline collection and analysis across a broad sweep of data points, including information gathered on social care packages, pathways and spending levels, contacts and referrals, service assessments and reviews, residential and domiciliary care services, and customer safeguarding measures. The case-level data presented as analytics drives new understanding.

“The changes we’ve made with itelligent-i plays across service areas – we can look holistically across the organisation, so our decisions can be more joined up,” says Simon Oliver, director of digital transformation, Bristol City Council. “Our ability to share data in a safe, legal and ethical manner has really opened up dialogue with the voluntary sector.”

Health and social care can work together with data

Prediction is easier. It’s possible to bring together more data from the health sector to understand how health and social care can work together in a more unified way, potentially using machine learning to harness data for even greater insights.

The platform can utilise data to identify patterns and develop predictive models and insights so the directorate can better plan how to locate and deliver services, including more widely across the region.

“We’ve moved from grasping an understanding of yesterday to seeing what’s happening now and subsequently predicting and planning for tomorrow. It is an exciting opportunity,” said Simon Oliver.

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