Wirral Council – Adults’ services enquiries
‘People can now receive a faster response‘
In September, Wirral Council started operating its new system for handling enquiries to its adults’ services department. Rather than call handlers simply recording information from callers to pass to social workers to follow up, they are now doing some of the initial assessment themselves.
Pete Gosling, principal manager for older people’s services, says it decided to change the front end of the service after realising people “weren’t getting good quality information at the point of contact or the timely response they should have been”.
Call handlers can now action a response to those with low-level needs by either arranging services or sending a needs self-assessment form. They are supported by qualified social workers who can offer advice and take over the more complicated cases, such as an adult protection issue.
Analysis of enquiries over the first two months shows about one-fifth of callers have been sent a self-assessment form. Currently, these are sent only to people applying for services for the first time, but all referrals will be included from next year.
Gosling explains the benefits of the approach: “Previously, someone would have taken the information and passed it on for someone else to arrange a visit. People would have had to wait much longer. They now get a faster response and can engage more with the process. The aim is for decisions to be made as close to the point that the assessment is done as possible.”
Handlers receive guidance on the questions to ask and how to ask them. Gosling is unsure of their backgrounds, but says they are given the same training as social workers on Fair Access to Care Services and how to deal with callers. “Handlers now follow an enquiry through. Their job satisfaction is better and they understand clients’ needs better.”