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Future Ways of Working @ Gloucestershire County Council

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Background

Gloucestershire County Council’s Children’s Services strives to collaborate with partner agencies, and this is now supported by the Liquidlogic Children’s Portal which provides a front door for the raising of concerns about children. In addition to this functionality, the Liquidlogic Children’s Portal facilitates online interaction with children, young people, parents and carers.

The Council has taken a phased approach to implementing the Portal; these phases include launching to external agencies for Front Door referrals, and facilitating interaction between children, families and carers, and social workers.

Speaking about the Portal, Andy Dowden, System Support Team Leader comments:

“We had a vision to implement a system which would enable Council staff to communicate with the children and families/carers that they support. We wanted to move to future ways of working and realised that the Liquidlogic Portal would enable us to do that.”

How was it done before?

Previously, an initial contact could be made into social care via phone with a dedicated line or by downloading and completing a Word document on the Council’s website.

Andy Dowden comments:

“Whilst the Front Door team immediately responded to any initial contacts, this approach did mean that information which came in via the Front Door team had to be manually inputted and then, if necessary, ‘pushed out’ to other professionals. By implementing the Liquidlogic Children’s Portal, we are able to disseminate relevant information to each professional automatically and work smarter.”

Phase 1: Front Door

Initially, the Council opted to launch the Children’s Portal to focus on incoming referrals into social care through the Front Door and into the Liquidlogic Early Help Module (EHM).  Andy Dowden goes on to say:

“Gloucestershire’s Front Door is a sizeable and specialist area within the Council. Our thinking was that if we could master that, we could roll out the portal to other areas. Of course, this was not without its challenges given the wide variety of stakeholders involved.”

Prior to the launch of the Children’s Portal, the Council put together a multi-agency team to shape the format of the online referral form. As well as social care staff, the team consisted of NHS, police and teachers, ensuring a holistic approach was taken.

Discussing this, Andy Dowden says:

“Whilst we ensured that key agencies’ views were captured for the referral form, one of the lessons learned was that in taking onboard everyone’s suggestions, we created a slightly cumbersome form. When rolling out the Liquidlogic Children’s Portal to other areas of the business, we will ensure that a more targeted focus on input is given to deliver a more succinct form.”

Seeing the Benefits

Andy Dowden talks about the key advantages in launching the Liquidlogic Children’s Portal:

“They include time-saving, oversight and a clear audit trail. With the Portal, fields in the Liquidlogic system are already pre-populated with information from the referral form on the portal. This saves huge amounts of time and reduces a margin for error.

In addition to this, there is clear oversight of involvements from multiple professionals and a joined-up view of the approach being taken by each agency. This supports good decision making.”

The Future

The next phase of the Children’s Portal project for the Council will focus on modification to some forms already in use to ensure user friendliness. Following this, the Portal will be rolled out to children, families and carers to enable them to interact with their social work team. Subsequent phases will include Fostering and other key social work teams at the Council.

Andy Dowden concludes:

“We have been supported well by Liquidlogic and with each release enhancements have been made. As an early adopter of the Liquidlogic Children’s Portal, we now feel that we are on the way to achieving what we set out to do – that is to work seamlessly between social care, partners, and the children, families and carers that we support.”

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