Family Mosaic is using a digital pen system from Destiny to reduce administration and increase the time staff spend with clients.
As well as providing housing for more than 45,000 people across London and Essex, Family Mosaic also has a large portfolio of homes for people with extra support needs.
Local authorities now require support staff to spent 80-90 per cent of their time with clients. This is difficult to achieve as most of Family Mosaic’s Supported Housing staff need to spend at least one day per week doing administrative work, such as writing up notes and updating Family Mosaic’s ERP system.
One of Family Mosaic’s main goals was to enable their floating and visiting support staff in Supported Housing to increase the time available for direct, face-to-face client support by making them both more efficient in the field and also reducing the administrative burden. In doing so, Family Mosaic needed to consider some specific issues:
- Supported Housing staff are from a care background and cannot be assumed to be particularly IT literate;
- Their job involves building an empathetic relationship with clients based on trust and support – so expensive-looking technology might seem confrontational or create a barrier;
- They often need to leave a signed document with the client with actions that both have agreed to, which is very difficult to do cost-effectively with many types of mobile technology.
Saul Stevens, head of IT, Family Mosaic, said, “We looked at alternatives but they simply weren’t appropriate. We ruled out laptops in particular because of all the issues to do with cost, risk, support and just giving the wrong impression. On the other hand, our staff are used to completing forms so a digital pen technology, based on a natural way of communicating, was immediately attractive.”
Destiny demonstrated how easily and fast a form could be completed, transmitted and received back on a Blackberry mobile device in seconds.
One of the first steps was the design of five digital forms to mirror the layout of the existing paper forms, which enabled Family Mosaic to take a fresh look at its business processes and became the catalyst for improved efficiency and more collaborative working.
The next step was to carry out a two-month pilot with five users to prove the technical capability of the Destiny system.
Using the Destiny system, pen strokes are automatically recorded as the user completes the form, and then transmitted via their Blackberry. The data is automatically sent to Destiny’s secure servers, where it is quickly converted into an Acrobat PDF file and a small XML data file, and then sent to Family Mosaic’s servers. The PDF-format graphical image is automatically recognised via a unique ID and stored in a database with the client’s other records, while the data file goes straight into their Pivotal ERP system. Any incorrect ID is rejected by the system and can be quickly checked manually.
By capturing all information in the field, and having it automatically uploaded, Supported Housing staff no longer need to spend a day or more each week in the office, scanning forms and updating the Pivotal ERP system.
Staff also no longer need to paraphrase their notes as they transcribe them, removing the risk of losing the detail of the original notes. Training on the Destiny system is minimal as completing the various forms is familiar to all staff.
Stevens said, “It’s a really fantastic tool. Our staff can now spend more time with clients and focus on the things that matter, rather than admin. They’re not being asked to do anything that they haven’t done before, and the technology they’re using is completely appropriate.”
Bridget Cooper, project sponsor and head of operations at Family Mosaic in South Essex, said, “Enabling our staff to spend more time with clients means we can provide better value for money. We’re recording information much faster and only once, with no duplicated work, and no need to write or type notes up later.”
Stevens concluded, “The best thing is the piece of paper that you can leave behind to meet regulatory requirements and act as a client contract. But the system works well from all other angles too. It tracks start and end times to prove our face-to-face client time and it removes a lot of work from back-end processing. It’s just a very neat, simple solution that will make a big difference to our staff.”
The full system will be rolled out by October 2009 to 215 floating and visiting support officers.