Workshops to Connect Councils & Know You’re Not Alone

Despite winter pressures and Omicron putting strain on social care services like never before, 15 of councils found capacity to attend our workshops on Discharge to Assess (D2A) and use of data in safeguarding, over the past two months. 

Whether it was the critical focus of the workshops or the ability to meet with other councils from across the country and discuss these complex, demanding services in a safe space, we have been blown away by the content, commitment and ideas to drive improvement across both D2A and safeguarding.

Safeguarding Workshops  

Safeguarding conversations are always wide ranging, the last session saw councils discuss everything from ‘invisible men’, child and adolescent exploitation, perpetual cycles of domestic violence, modern slavery, county lines, self harming and suicide, to communities feeling disenfranchised and unsupported, the knock on impact on the economy, the sheer pressure on social workers, a system under immense and never-ending pressure – always on the back foot. 

Whilst the session was challenging, the outputs were creative and clear, connections were made and a consensus reached particularly around the role data has to play in giving agencies the information they need to design relevant strategies, break cycles and support the move from a reactive service to a preventative one.  

We linked up councils who had ‘outstanding’ Ofsted ratings with others who needed to improve, we heard about the approaches to sharing safeguarding data some councils are already progressing (and the benefits they’ve seen), the complications others face in terms of data collation, reporting – and of course budgets. 

At December’s safeguarding workshop the challenges were discussed in a completely different way, but again the headlines were clear: 

  • Demand outstrips capacity;
  • Safeguarding professionals do not have not enough time to spend with clients to find solutions and meet their needs;
  • The pandemic has caused too many virtual interactions meaning information gathered is poorer and as a result services are less personal;
  • Systems and/or users don’t capture consistent information; and 
  • Councils (and their safeguarding partners) don’t know the best approach to take to maximise the benefit of the data they hold.

Discharge to Assess Workshops  

The D2A workshops have also seen lively debate, learning and open exchanges. January’s session highlighted the key challenge being around beds in short term care, as well as staffing capacity, whilst the discussion in December’s workshop was more wide ranging. 

Everyone highlighted the lack of capacity across – and sheer demand on – services, meaning staff were working relentlessly, reactively and at pace. With the pressure the pandemic has put on hospitals and discharge teams, everyone felt like there hadn’t been a break since the 2021 winter pressures – one participant summed it up well; “Summer felt like winter”, and there was definitely no time to plan. 

On top of the numbers, came the common issue of sluggish IT systems and not having enough hours in the day to deal with the referrals that councils did know about, never mind new ones. Across the board every council was fire fighting and focused on simply getting everyone discharged.

Key process points captured across both workshops were that D2A is a very manual process – reliant on spreadsheets, emails, calls and disparate documents. Creating a ‘single source of truth’ was what every organisation talked about, irrespective of where they were on their D2A transformation journey.

Again in the D2A workshops, there has been a real sense that attendees have appreciated the space and opportunity to discuss their D2A processes, unpick what happens at each stage, where the pain and pitfalls are, and to learn from other areas and different approaches. 

It’s always interesting to see how councils engage and share, how personalities drive the conversation and the connections are made – many of which last long after the workshop ends. Indeed on our last safeguarding session two councils from opposite ends of the country were planning how to continue the conversation, as well as share assets and best practice; it really felt like they were close colleagues, who had just never met before. 

If you would like some of the shareable assets from these workshops, or to be invited to the next one – please get in touch.