Like many local authorities, Suffolk County Council was facing significant challenges in relation to its Adult and Community Service (ACS). IMPOWER was initially tasked with helping Suffolk to identify a series of potential target demand scenarios in ACS. This work demonstrated there was significant potential to reduce demand volumes and in doing so make savings of up to £11 million. In the second phase of work, IMPOWER provided targeted support around culture and behaviour change in order to ensure the right conditions were in place to sustain change over the longer term.
The council felt they had introduced traditional demand management approaches but were still not seeing the benefits in either improved outcomes for people or financial savings. We reframed the problem by enabling them to understand why strengths-based practice was not being applied by frontline staff, and how more effective demand management (at the pre-front door and front door) could free up capacity at all stages of the customer journey. This allowed staff to have longer and more effective conversations with customers, with the explicit aim of maximising their independence. An additional benefit of the work was that it helped re-shape and reframe the entire ACS demand management programme, with the client ulimately deciding that all projects should work towards the same goal of improving outcomes and reducing cost, rather than demand management being one project operating in isolation.
IMPOWER consultants were embedded within the council’s demand management team, allowing them to work closely together. This enabled genuine collaboration on both project deliverables and on other relevant activities, such as drafting communications to staff about the programme, shaping the programme governance, and introducing more considered language in AF1 letters being sent to customers. Frontline staff were engaged by facilitating demand management workshops with staff from across the service to share insights, identify opportunities and change behaviours in order to prevent, reduce or delay demand.
“The concept of Trajectory Management has allowed us to monitor the impact of a huge volume of activity with much greater confidence, in particular where different pieces of work had differing effects on the same budget.“
Phil Quickenden, Senior Manager Lead – Demand Management Programme, Suffolk County Council)
Behavioural science was central to the success of the project. For example, a behavioural lens was applied to the existing AF1 template letter This letter is sent out to customers to request an update on their financial situation. in order to improve the response rate. Historically, the response to these AF1 requests was poor and the letter was therefore rewritten using a MINDSPACE approach:
IMPOWER facilitated conversations between the council and health partners across the 3 regions in Suffolk, to help build appetite and momentum for taking a demand management approach through the health pathway. These discussions have led to the council and health partners actively taking forward initiatives to better understand and influence demand flowing into and through the acute hospitals in Suffolk, which will ultimately lead to wider system benefits and improved outcomes for patients and service users.
“Our collaboration with IMPOWER gave credibility to the plans we co-produced, giving confidence to our stakeholders. Adopting a Trajectory Management approach gave us the evidence we needed to obtain executive and political confidence in this activity, along with a framework around which we could monitor performance across the county.”
Tracy Lindeman, Assistant Director, Suffolk County Council
“Our work with IMPOWER has been truly collaborative – we have been able to utilise the team’s experience, enthusiasm and skills to truly complement our work. IMPOWER have enabled us to transform our staff communications and engagement, by hosting workshops and providing a safe environment for our staff to share their ideas and concerns which have then been interpreted and fed back constructively.
“Translating and interpreting complex data is challenging and IMPOWER have been key in enabling us to do this. As a result, we have extremely high confidence in what this data is telling us and in how best to proceed based on the opportunities identified.”
Phil Quickenden, Senior Manager Lead – Demand Management Programme, Suffolk County Council