Norfolks implements calculation engine to automate processes in Adult Services
Norfolk County is a largely rural community with a population of 850,800 (2009). Of this, a large proportion, over 28% (245,000), are aged sixty and over. The number of older people is expected to carry on growing to 356,700 by 2029.
As part of Norfolk's Older People’s Strategy - Living Longer, Living Well. The County Council is looking to extend the use of Personal Budgets for their citizens. To provide a personalised service, they have been rolling out personal budgets across the council. The management team realised that as numbers and usage grew, they needed a more sophisticated model to cope with future demand.
Using technology to automate the process.
Anita Oldacre, Development Officer at Norfolk County Council explains,
“We had a manual process for managing our RAS calculations for Personal Budgets."
One full time employee’s role was to ensure that these RAS Calculations were calculated. They would do this calculation in a spreadsheet and complete the activity. Following this, they then added an observation with the calculated amount (gross indicative budget) and alerted the relevant practitioner.
This process was not only manual, but it was inconsistent; sometimes the practitioner could get the response very quickly and sometimes it could take a couple of days. Due to the manual nature of the process, it was also open to human error and time consuming to audit.
For this project, Norfolk’s focus was to deliver a solution that provided a Personal Budget calculation for its Service Users.
Linda Fisher, Business/Application Resource Centre Manager at Norfolk commented,
"To generate financial savings and get best use from our staff, we knew our current process needed to be streamlined. We were looking for a technical solution that would allow us to automate this process. We needed it to also be flexible enough to map to a pre-defined assessment and RAS model."
Norfolk came to OLM with this challenge to see if there was anyway they could help. OLM had been working to develop a solution to solve this specific issue as it was finding that it was a common requirement for customers. OLM had been working with a number of councils that were using different RAS models and wanted to automate this process without having to change their RAS model. The solution OLM developed was OLM's Calculation Engine. This innovative solution allows a council to use any RAS model and automate the calculation in any form; a pioneering development for the social care market.
Implementing the solution
As the first council to implement RAS, OLM worked closely with Norfolk closely to ensure that the solution met their needs. Norfolk also helped OLM address areas that could be enhanced for future implementations.
Anne-Louise Ollett, Systems Development and Compliance Officer added:
“Due to the OLM's solutions flexibility, it was able to fully meet our needs. Overall, the success of the project was a result of the business and ICT working closely together. The OLM team were professional and quick to respond."
"Technically, I was very impressed and would recommend the solution. It is completely stable and has already completed an odd 2000 RAS calculations without issue."
The Norfolk Council team consisted of a technical lead, a business lead and a resource that built the forms.
Benefits of the RAS Engine for Norfolk
• Streamlined straight through process
• Cost savings
• Ease of audit
Feedback from the staff
“After a successful launch, The RAS Engine is fully live and operational in Norfolk. It has been rolled out to all of our 300+ practitioners"
"The feedback we have had from practitioners is all very positive... it significantly speeds up the end-to-end process. They love the fact that it all happens so quickly, as the RAS Engine generates the answer in their form automatically within seconds."
Another benefit of the new Calculation Engine was the fact that within the system there was a clear audit of the process in place. This makes any auditing much faster and easier as everything is in one place.
Return on investment
Calculation Admin: One Full Time employee saved/redeployed
Practitioners: 600 – 900 hours in time savings due to automated processing
The Norfolk RAS Engine project will deliver a significant return on investment. This will be generated through the ability to redeploy the team that was carrying out the calculations manually each day.
For the practitioners, Norfolk now has a streamlined direct process, meaning they get answers straight away. This removes the time taken to add an activity, receive the notification that it has been completed and find the record to complete the assessment.
Over 18,000 RAS assessments take place at Norfolk each year. With a conservative estimate of two to three minutes per assessment per user, you can see the significant time savings gained. This would save between 600 - 900 hours of admin work from the practitioner’s side, meaning practitioners can spend less time on the system and more time with clients. As the use of RAS grows, this time saving will only grow. In addition, this does not take into consideration the savings that will be generated through the new simple auditing process.