Health and social care staff will be able to support hundreds more families in Wolverhampton every week thanks to Government funding aimed at boosting mobile working.

Wolverhampton City Council was successful in a bid to the Department for Communities and Local Government's Transformation Challenge Award scheme.

It has received £191,000 to equip the council's family support workers and children's centre employees, as well as health visitors from the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, with integrated technology which will enable practitioners to work much more efficiently.

The money will be used to purchase mobile devices such as tablets and provide training to dozens of employees. The technology will enable them to share, maintain and update information in real time, rather than after consultations or meetings as is currently the case. In doing so, they will be able to spend more time helping vulnerable families, as well as identifying potential issues much more quickly.

Mobile working has been piloted at Dove and Berries Children's Centres over the last 12 months and has been shown to slash the amount of time employees spend on administrative duties, while also improving services to families.

Councillor Val Gibson, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: "This is tremendous news and will transform the way we provide our services, in the process delivering better outcomes for young people and their families.

"We estimate that around 40% of health visitors'' and family support workers' time is spent completing administrative tasks, such as taking handwritten notes during meetings and then going back to the office to write up case notes and actions.

"For example, new birth visits by family support workers may take an hour with the family, but then another hour to complete the case notes, actions and referrals.

"By enabling them to upload information during their meetings, we can reduce the administrative burden placed on them considerably, and therefore enable them to get on with the important role of supporting families in Wolverhampton.

"By spending more time with families, and by sharing information more effectively between partners, we anticipate practitioners will have more opportunities to identify potential issues at an early stage, and so offer more effective early intervention."

Wolverhampton City Council was one of 80 local authorities to receive a share of £9million from the Transformation Challenge Award, aimed at cutting costs by joining up services.

The council estimates that providing more early intervention support could prevent around 25 young people a year from having to go into care, saving taxpayers approximately £1million per year. Further savings will be realised by using translation software to communicate with families for whom English is not their first language, reducing interpretation costs considerably.

Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins said: "I am delighted to announce that 80 far sighted authorities are being rewarded for focusing on the needs of council tax payers and the people who use their services.

"By joining forces with neighbouring councils and other organisations they are not only cutting costs but also making sure their residents get the very best service."

  • released: Wednesday 24 September, 2014