Adult social care is under continuing pressure to manage increasing demand and make savings, with around £3m to be saved from the older people’s budget alone. This is a key issue for Essex, aligning with the current MTAF (Medium Term Area of Focus) project that has just started on Demand. Data and Analytics often get requests for information to support savings plans or predict the potential impact of various projects and service changes and we are always looking to grow our offer and find ways to answer these questions more efficiently.
We wanted to develop a new tool to help inform conversations around demand across the system and demonstrate the way that different initiatives interrelate, whilst providing something usable and interactive that decision makers could use to test and model different ideas.
In order to move this idea forward four of us came together as a core group to focus on the project for a seven day agile 'sprint' project. Agile is still a relatively new approach for us and so it was a good opportunity to continue to learn about the advantages of a slightly different working style.
There were definitely some nerves at the start of the project and working in this way did mean some changes to normal work patterns but we were able to work this out and be flexible as a group.
It was definitely worth beneficial for all to be available at the same time in the same place. This helped us stay focused, keep everyone up to speed, and move things forward efficiently.
I think (hope!) I speak for everyone in the group in saying that it was really enjoyable having a small team to work so closely with, and the variety of complementary skills that people contributed enabled us to learn from one another during the process. It also felt satisfying to see the work take shape so quickly; having a short timescale, a tightly defined scope, and a licence to prioritise over other work definitely helped us all to stay motivated and switch off other distractions.
The seven day challenge was great starting point but the work doesn’t end there! Now that the initial development of the tool has been completed the next stage will involve sharing, refining and beginning to roll it out, so look out for this as we continue to think about how we manage demand for adult social care as well as the other related work as part of the ongoing MTAF project.