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Agile Redesign Allows for Faster Decision Making in Long Term Care for Children
Hillingdon Council were embarking on a Council wide transformation programme. They wanted help to kickstart the programme and also to build capacity within their services to lead transformation programmes beyond our intervention. Basis Consultants led the delivery of this Red Quadrant project.
One of the projects we worked on in Children’s Services aimed to reduce the time between children becoming looked after and being adopted. We held workshops with representatives from across children’s services with a role in adoption proceedings, with legal teams and with the voluntary sector to identify the key issues and to come up with solutions to resolve them.
Together we identified there were regular breakdowns in communication between social workers and the legal department, and a lack of joint planning with voluntary adoption agencies. These issues often resulted in bottlenecks and unnecessary delays in the process for children and families.
We worked with social workers to prototype a range of solutions to overcome these issues on a small scale in order to understand the potential impact before rolling out changes across the services. We tested the impact of having regular planned contact with legal teams and voluntary adoption agencies to enable them to work proactively together, we helped design monitoring tools to enable managers to identify delays at the earliest possible point and we tested out enabling the teams to ‘self-manage’ to put their improvements into place without the need for cumbersome programme boards and highlight reports.
The impact for the prototype teams was significant enough to rollout the improvements across the service. When Ofsted inspected Children’s Services in Hillingdon after our intervention they identified that the average time between a child becoming looked after and being placed for adoption had reduced by 123 days.
What we did
identify how teams all the way along the Children’s Services pathway could prevent need from escalating and reduce the numbers of children becoming looked after.
As a Strategic Partner for Hillingdon, we supported them on developing capacity and capability to deliver improvements; coaching their internal staff to learn improvement skills and providing them with subject matter experts as and when necessary to transformation whole services.
We worked across the whole of the Children’s Services Pathway from Children’s Centres, Early Help, Educational Psychologists to MASH and LAC teams supporting Hillingdon to understand how they could change to focus on prevention and support at home rather than care.
One key change we supported them to design and deliver focused on applying adoption reforms to make best use of adoption reform grant.
Following engagement workshops with front-line social workers and managers, we adopted a prototype approach to design and test new ways of working in a controlled environment before being implemented across the service. Using this method, we developed more self-managing teams that allowed social workers and team managers to take responsibility for designing and improving practice. How they work with other teams and partners involved in the adoption journey was key to ensuring a smooth journey.
We coached and supported the teams through activities that document a child’s journey from admission to placement for adoption, challenging their perceptions and assumptions so they were able to identify what was best for the child. Introducing collaborative working practices between social workers and legal teams to speed up legal proceedings; and with voluntary adoption agencies to implement concurrent planning. Supported by newly designed effective management tools for identifying delays and allowing for early decision making, these were designed by team managers and social workers, so all involved understood what was being measured, why and how it helped them all improve.