This case study is one in a series illustrating how organisations are using the Better Futures outcomes framework and monitoring tool to make the best use of resources and improve outcomes for people who need support.
Case Study Setting
Seascape is a voluntary sector organisation based in Ayr that provides a wide range of support to people who are homeless or in Housing need in South Ayrshire. Working with almost 400 people at any time and a referral rate of around 60 people per month, the fundamental aim of the organisation is to enable people to find and move into suitable and affordable property. This involves helping them with tenancy paperwork, budgeting and liaising with numerous other organisations to ensure effective support with issues such as debt, mental and physical health, addiction and family issues. Seascape also provides a rent deposit guarantee scheme, a credit union, as well as flat sharing, drop in and befriending services.
Why use Better Futures?
This case study looks at two aspects of Better Futures as an outcomes and management tool, both of which ultimately enhance relationships between organisations, between support staff and most importantly enhance the experience of service users.
- A Shared Assessment Tool
South Ayrshire Council itself uses Better Futures, as do the three other commissioned housing/homelessness services in the area. Better Futures helps these agencies to be consistent in their approach to identifying and monitoring outcomes. Seascape has the contract to carry out detailed initial assessments for all referrals. This is done by two Assessment Officers located within the Council’s Housing Options Team. Co-locating the Assessment Officer within the Council offices has improved links with Homeless and Accommodation Officers and other local authority services, e.g. mental health officers, training and employment services.
Better Futures provides a common language and platform for support agencies and avoids duplication of effort (i.e. people receiving further assessment as they move between organisations) and inconvenience (i.e. people having to repeat their story). From a quality assurance perspective, it also allows outcomes to be measured accurately on a local authority-wide scale.
Like any information management tool the quality and consistency of input is essential to ensure the best outcomes for people. Better Futures provides a way of presenting information for caseload reviews, which are carried out regularly to ensure:
- The most effective management of overall caseload.
- Possible alternate ways of supporting people are explored. (This can also lead to staff training and development needs being identified).
- There is consistency of recording and reporting across the organisation and to the local authority.
- An Operation ‘field tool’
The Support Team Leader at Seascape was asked to reflect on how Better Futures helps her manage her time with the people she supports. She identified the following key areas:
- The people supported are often quite chaotic and don’t see their progress. Better Futures enables management of time, discussion and helps engagement with service users. Better Futures helps focus discussions and provides a structure to support sessions; splitting it between helping the person reflect on steps already taken and looking ahead to the next steps.
- Better Futures enables the person to generate their own goals and helps to set the tone/nature of the relationship between worker and service user. This allows the worker to be an enabler and avoid creating dependency.
- Time is saved on paperwork with the online system. Reviews can be carried out ‘there and then’ with the person using Netbooks, Computers or Mobile Phones. This improves confidentiality and eliminates the need to take handwritten notes back to the office for typing.
Impact of Case Reviews
Better Futures provides the source information for and is at the heart of Case Reviews. These are an effective way of using robust data to review the totality of each workers caseload. The review process itself helps to reduce a sense of worker isolation, which is a risk where support is delivered peripatetically in the community. This approach requires that the outcomes approach is embedded in all aspects of management, e.g. Supervision, Appraisal, etc.
Impact on frontline staff
Two staff members at Seascape were asked about their experience of using Better Futures. An extract from their statements highlights some of the benefits they perceive from using the framework.
To find out more contact:
Seascape – George MacPhail, Support Senior email@example.com 01292 271004
Better Futures – Heather McCluskey, Policy and Information Officer firstname.lastname@example.org 0131 475 2676