What analysis techniques will you use for this case?
Case exercise: Queenswick Adult Social Care Queenswick is a city in northern England that has suffered from industrial decline and a lack of investment in the later years of the twentieth century. Its population numbers 250,000, nearly 20,000 of whom are over 75. The population declined by 7.5 per cent between 1991 and 2001. Almost half of its inhabitants live in rented accommodation, compared with the national figure of 30 per cent. Nearly 7 per cent of the adult population are out of work. Of the 376 local authorities in England and Wales, only 22 have a worse level of unemployment. Some families on its estates were experiencing second generation unemployment. Its schools were often near the bottom of the GCSE league tables and the city suffered from above- average teenage pregnancies, drug use and antisocial crime. In recent years there had been an influx of Kurdish refugees together with workers from Poland and the Baltic States. For several years its city council was labelled the worst performing in the country, though in recent years substantial progress had been made. As perhaps could be expected for a city experiencing such deprivation, there was a high degree of dependency on the city council for providing adult social care. Although the city council website provided substantial, easily accessed and well- explained information, with links to the various adult social care departments, this was of little obvious use to people without computers or the technological literacy to use them. Consequently, a high proportion of service users preferred to make contact by telephone, in the expectation of discussing their problems with a sympathetic respondent. The council's Initial Contact Centre was staffed by five
people, normally handling around 200 calls a week. They categorised the calls into different levels of priority and they were then forwarded to the department they believed to be most appropriate. However, they were not trained experts and cases could therefore be routed to the wrong department and risk being handled incorrectly. This could cause delays, duplication of information with different departments often asking the same initial questions and customers never seeing or speaking to the same person more than once. There was also a lack of communication between the various departments. Apart from the frustration, distress and irritation caused to vulnerable customers with a high degree of dependency who sought to build a trusting relationship, this was a costly and inefficient service which did not engender confidence and risked giving the council a bad name Queenswick City Council therefore engaged a student management consulting team from the local university to address three objectives: to review the customer pathway through the adult social care system, to highlight the problem areas and recommend solutions to make the system more efficient; to improve the overall experience for the service users. The brief for the team therefore was to meet with different members of the social care team and the Initial Contact Centre staff, review the workflow analysis, measure the volume of calls and the different departments to which they were routed and examine the council's website. They also needed to address the system from an outside perspective as if they were service users, identifying issues that would affect these individuals directly. The consulting team's intention was to streamline the process so that it would run more smoothly and efficiently with a system that would be easier to understand, quicker and better working both for the service user and the council. The consulting team also drew on an example of best practice from the neighbouring Coverley County Council's "See and Solve' team. This consisted of a front team of about 20 personnel, all of whom have been trained to a high standard. Using a solution-based questioning method, it was possible for some 60 per cent of calls received to be re-routed to staff outside the adult social care system. The See and Solve' team could therefore field the calls and assess them and also draw directly on a small team of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). This was not quite the
easy experience the consulting team anticipated. The Initial Contact Centre staff members were hostile and uncooperative and did not appreciate what they saw as unwarranted intrusion. They were busy enough as it was, without a group of students telling them how they should be working. What experience, if any, did these "kids' have? As a result, this part of the process took much longer than expected. Despite this, the student consultants arrived at some precise recommendations: • Create a group of Subject Matter Experts consisting of an occupational therapist, a social worker, a benefits expert, a health care worker, a community liaison worker and a housing officer. Ensure that the initial Contact Centre is expanded and that they are well trained, knowing what are the right questions to ask. • Allocate each service user a case officer who acts as the main point of contact for the individual who deals with them from beginning to end. Create review teams to conduct regular audits to determine the efficiency and overall performance of the new system. Some KPIs were also proposed - for example, all cases should have an assessment completed within four weeks, ideally two, with a care plan set up and in place within eight weeks of first contact. These proposals would imply some degree of cost due to training needs, redeployment and possible recruitment but they would lead to an improved service and, crucially, more satisfied customers with much more confidence in the council. However, when they were presented the team did not enjoy the reaction they expected. The client felt the proposals were far too costly to implement. With the council already having to make significant savings in its budget, how could they seriously propose spending time and money training people and moving others around? The client said they needed a properly quantified business plan with costs and benefits clearly identified. Then there was the issue of the trade union: industrial action had already been threatened over possible redundancies, so redeployment would not be achieved without argument. The client also wondered aloud if some of the current staff would be able to be trained successfully as they plainly weren't up to the job.
What was he supposed to do with them? Surely it would be easier to leave things as they are?