Integrating Mental Health and Social Care

In order to address the Government’s challenging modernisation agenda, and to improve its information sharing capabilities, the Council entered an ambitious strategic partnership with OLM 

Drivers for improved integration of the information systems used by the Council and its local partners included a re-structuring around children's and community services. These new pan-discipline services would need to transform their business processes and, in doing so, would generate requirements for integration of their information systems. Many of which were highly compartmentalised within previous departmental boundaries.

Historically, users were required to undertake an arduous, inefficient process in order to enter, store and retrieve data. This entailed logging onto two separate systems to find the right information. The Out of Hours staff encountered even further complications, as they did not have access to the systems and had to wait until standard office hours for another service user to relay the information.

Integration would be viable only if strong governance could be exercised over user registration and authentication, the scope of access allowed to individual users, enforcement of the 'need to know' principle and respect for consent and privacy. It would also carry high risk without effective management of identity across systems so that records about the same person could be linked correctly when appropriate. Equally important was the need for a flexible, scalable solution able to form a fundamental part of the technical strategy for the council and to respond to the ever changing needs of social care.

Hence the Information Sharing Gateway project was established to demonstrate proof of concept for these ideas, based on information sharing between social care and mental health.

The solution

Recognising that service improvements through information sharing can only be delivered if they are underpinned effectively by a robust and adaptable solution, the Council partnered with OLM due to their solid experience and expertise in social care.

The solution that was put forward by OLM enabled authorised practitioners in mental health teams to obtain a unified view of an individual’s case file. This was achieved by sharing information held in the NHS mental health system and the social care case management system.

The team lead commented,

“We were very satisfied with the solution that OLM submitted. This was not an off-the-shelf solution. OLM worked closely with us in a development partnership to apply their expertise to our business context. We specified user requirements, including sophisticated confidentiality requirements, which OLM then engineered effectively.”

Assessment of the Information Sharing Gateway concluded that it was a well-engineered system which evaluation teams found easy-to-use and proved genuinely useful in the day-to-day conduct of their business. On a measure of usefulness where 0 was ‘useless’ and 5 was ‘indispensable’, four out of five teams gave the system a score of 4 or 5.

The benefits

OLM recommended a solution that offered a number of tangible benefits. By joining up the applications, the proof of concept initiative showed us that citizens need only tell their story once to the care professional. Associated professionals can then access the relevant parts of that service user’s record, negating the need for repetition. This in turn generates a significant efficiency saving to the authority.

Previously, staff would have been required to input client information into two disparate systems, on two separate networks, resulting in duplicated effort, and an inability to share common data between the two agency systems.

Furthermore, the project board elected to adopt a collaborative approach with system users, engaging at an early stage of development with internal stakeholders to overcome potential resistance to the introduction of change. This approach has worked well, internal customers were enthusiastic about the recommendations and were keen to get other departments involved, for example, housing, youth offending and education.

Business benefits delivered by OLM’s solution for social care practitioners:

  • Efficiency savings

  • Facilitates a proactive approach

  • Helps protect vulnerable people

  • Improves access to information

  • Improves data quality

  • Improves decision making

  • Raises authorities profile

  • Removes duplicate data entry

  • Streamlines business approach


Business benefits delivered by OLM’s solution for service users:

  • Improves citizen experience

  • Increases citizens confidence levels

  • Provides citizen access

  • Supports shared services

  • Transforms service delivery