Developing a professional linkage platform in Adult Social Care: Final reflections from project partners

Following on from our previous blogs at the prototyping and midpoint of the LOTI project to develop a professional linkage platform in adult social care, in this blog I will highlight key reflections about the project collected from across the project partners. 

Reflections from Hounslow

Overall, it was an innovative, well organised and methodologically robust project that was delivered to time and budget with significant additionality beyond project requirements. The use of bi-weekly sprints ensured tight controls were in place. And the formation of the project board was also helpful, which included the LOTI project commissioner. 

What did we not anticipate? 

There were a couple of things we did not anticipate at the beginning of the project, firstly, the length of time it would take to secure the use of health data, as this was compounded by the complex system of boards needed to attend to gain approvals. Also, the level of detail and time required for the Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA) and related documentation i.e. Cyber Security Questionnaire. Additionally, it was difficult to anticipate the knowledge of future Business Intelligence Strategy details required to inform current project decision-making. From a project point of view, there were changes of project partners (i.e. Brent joined and Hammersmith and Fulham left) and there was a loss of project manager mid-way through the project.   

How has the project pushed Hounslow forward? 

The project has helped us develop internal technical knowledge and contributed to the development of the Business Intelligence Strategy and Population Health Management integrated datasets. It also has helped to accelerate the development of trusted organisational partnerships and data sharing, and has informed the discussions contributing to the development of MS Teams shared channels (with ASC, Hospital Discharge and BBP teams).  

Reflections from Brent

At Brent, our established data lake has been instrumental in combining multiple internal datasets, offering a comprehensive overview of residents’ interactions with council services across various use cases. This robust system provided a springboard for an ambitious pilot project: integrating external and internal data to enhance our understanding of resident service interactions and thereby improve the support we can offer.

Our Pilot Project Aims

The primary goal of this initiative was to empower Adult Social Care front door teams with a comprehensive view of selected internal and external services accessed by residents. Traditionally, the absence of consolidated information forced these teams to manually reach out to other stakeholders to gather necessary details, a process that was not only time-consuming but also prone to inaccuracies. By centralising data access, the project aimed to expedite the information retrieval process and improve decision-making accuracy, ensuring that critical information was up-to-date and less likely to be overlooked.

In addition to this, we aimed to test the integration of external data sets with our existing datasets. This approach would help to improve our awareness of what NHS services residents engaged with, identifying opportunities to improve support. Crucially, the project allowed us to explore the potential of this integrated data approach without committing to ongoing data sharing with external organisations. We sought to understand the key outcomes this data could deliver and evaluate its added value to our operations.

Decisions and Adjustments

Despite the potential, we encountered significant challenges. The critical external data set required for the project’s success was not received, which drastically diminished the anticipated benefits. Additionally, the project had not been allocated a budget for our involvement from the outset. The technical project team was specialised in AWS but there was a need for Azure-specialised development, given our infrastructure is based on Azure and this presented a financial implication for us. These factors led us to a strategic decision to pause our pilot implementation and assume an advisory role. This shift allowed us to continue supporting the project’s goals while contributing to the development of an associated toolkit, all without incurring unplanned costs.

Benefits and Insights

The project, despite its adjustments, brought forth several benefits and insights:

  • Enhanced Data Sharing: We gained deeper insights into the advantages of data sharing, noting its potential to streamline service delivery and reduce the time required to gather information from various sources.
  • Awareness of Challenges: The initiative improved our understanding of the challenges and processes necessary for accessible and compliant data sharing with external partners.
  • Digital Transformation in Social Care: The project elevated the discussion around data and digital transformation within Adult Social Care. This led to the establishment of an Adult Social Care Transformation Board, marking a significant step towards integrating digital solutions in service delivery.
  • Ethical Considerations: Presenting the pilot to Brent’s Data Ethics Board enriched our discussions on data sharing ethics, especially regarding sensitive information such as mental health data and engagement with next of kin.

Looking Ahead 

Moving forward, the learnings from this pilot will inform our approach to future data-driven projects. As we continue to explore innovative ways to enhance service delivery through data integration, the insights gained will play a crucial role in shaping our strategies, ensuring they are both effective and aligned with our community’s needs and expectations.

Reflections from Social Finance

This project has been a great example of the wider impact that pilot projects can have. Hounslow’s data maturity has moved on significantly over the course of this project, with the relationship with key health settings in a much stronger place. Brent also has a better understanding of the health system as a whole, and is well placed to capitalise on the new relationships formed over the course of the project to push forward partnership working.

LOTI’s support over the course of the project has been fundamental to the project’s success, and we hope that the outputs we have left at the close of the project will push forward other boroughs looking to emulate the project approach. We look forward to seeing how related work progresses across Northwest London and beyond.

Adult Social Care Fund

Harry Angus
24 April 2024 ·
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