The Ormerod Trust was founded in 1972 to provide care and support to children with learning disabilities. Since then the charity has expanded and modernised significantly and now provides a broad range of care and support services to both adults and children with a learning disability. Operating across the Wyre, Fylde and Blackpool areas, the Trust aims to support people to maximise their independence, achieve their personal goals, and take control of their own lives as active members of their local community.
The Trust was aware of the need to maintain meticulous and up to date records of its activities, making the best use of available IT systems. They had already improved their IT for supported living services by upgrading to a cloud-based system for care providers. However, they were now looking to extend this to their Stepping Out Services, which provides over 30 activity classes each week with options including football, wardrobe, photography and choir.
Staff were concerned that their lack of IT skills meant that they were overly reliant on paperwork and that this was limiting their efficiency, but that the cloud-based system wouldn’t fit in with their existing ways of working. Daniel Jones, CEO of the Ormerod Trust, therefore approached The Cranfield Trust for help in putting together an IT Strategy which would include reviewing the organisation’s existing systems.
Thanks to support from The Garfield Weston Foundation, the Cranfield Trust’s Project Manager, Nick Stojic, was able to introduce Daniel to a local volunteer consultant who started by reviewing the current processes and looking at what was needed in the future. This stretched across the Stepping Out team, finance and management looking at questions such as what was working? Where were the gaps? How could administration improve to make more time for those who used the service? How should the organisation make the service sustainable at a time of budget cuts?
As Sue, the volunteer, explains:
"The review of current processes revealed that the Stepping Out team were sinking under trying to create rotas and adjust them quickly when staff called in sick. Finance needed up to date data on staff attendance for salaries.
Looking at future processes showed that Ormerod needed to produce robust records of the service provided for purchasers, especially at a time of budget cuts. They also needed to provide reports to manage and improve the service. Were staff, particularly contract staff, used effectively? What services were delivered against the planned hours? Where were any empty places?”
Discussion of the details revealed that important business decisions had to be addressed. Some people using the service had received more support than contracted for many years – how should this be handled? Should people receiving support be charged if they could not attend a session? How should transport to/from the class be charged and staffed? Who is responsible for data entry?
When new draft processes were agreed, Ormerod started work implementing them on the new cloud-based training system. They started with a single session and then rolled it out to a single Local Authority, before applying it to all the sessions. Problems with the number of licences, internet bandwidth and staff training were identified and addressed. Staff showed real determination wrestling with data entry on an unfamiliar system and had several “Oh that button just does it!” moments. The commitment of all staff involved with the new system meant that they powered through many of the problems and are now seeing the benefits. Sue commented:
“As a volunteer the best day was when I discovered that conversation had switched from everyday tasks to how the service could be improved……..and finance were no longer up until the early hours preparing the payroll.”
Daniel was delighted by the results of Cranfield’s input, as the new methods of working freed up time which can now be spent working directly with the Trust’s beneficiaries:
“We are getting faster by using the system to do administration. This means that we can spend more time working with the people we support – improving sessions, improving quality and performing supervisions.”
Everyone within the organisation has appreciated the benefits of the increased efficiency, as Daniel continues:
“Cash collection and billing accuracy has increased so we are providing the service contracted. We now also have much improved accountability and transparency which is vital in our work, especially on safeguarding matters where we need to know who is where and when. Overall, we can save about 2 staff per week by using the teams more efficiently.”