Reshaping Social Services with New Tools
For frontline social services professionals, Covid-19 has brought incredible disruption. At ESN we have been documenting the challenges that social services working with children and families, youth, people with disabilities, the homeless and older people have faced since March 2020, as well as how heroically they jumped into action to care for those in need.
However, Covid-19 has also led to several transformative changes which have been spoken about for years. Quoting Rahm Emanuel “never want a serious crisis to go to waste”, it became necessary to implement new and innovative, digital, agile, and remote ways of working; the crisis was the impetus to fast-forward turning these discussions into action.
The Covid-19 pandemic has further encouraged social services authorities to explore innovation with the third and private sectors as well as digitalisation and its benefits, whether back-end improvements, predictive analytics, demand forecasting and remote monitoring. Many public authorities are looking further at partnerships, the integration of health and social care, advance case management that provides for the opportunity to develop new and integrated services across sectors, amongst many other examples of innovation.
In the framework of our working groups on digitalisation and European funds, we have been discussing a series of proposals for reform to transform social services into modern and resilient services for a recovery that works for all and leaves no-one behind with ESN members working in social welfare services across Europe and beyond
The European Union’s financial budget for 2021-2027 and national funds for resilience and recovery are a fantastic opportunity to invest in the transformation of social services, through new methods of working and digital systems. With their focus on innovative transformation and on digital transition, this is a chance for social services to invest in their modernisation and reform.
- Integrated approaches bringing together a range of services (i.e. social, health, education, employment).
- New procurement models to ensure a resilient collaboration with providers.
- Collective intelligence models with the help of machine reading and learning techniques for trend forecasting.
- Data management information systems for improving data gathering, analysis and usage.
- Standards in social services digitalisation to be shared across all administrations involved in social service planning, delivery and evaluation.
- Quality assurance standards agreed across all administrations and organisations working in social services management and provision.
- Enhancing the modernisation of public administration by automating current and new processes for professionals and people using services.
- Advanced tele-care programmes including remote assessment, monitoring and evaluation.
- New professional roles adapted to the needs of people using social services.
- New workforce strategies for training and development adapted to the new needs of people using social services.
- Innovative programmes enhancing retention and wellbeing of staff in social services especially affected by Covid-19.
- Collaborative approaches and devices that help with physical aspects of care.
- Development of tools that assess large sets of quantity and quality data to support professionals in service decision-making.
- Improvement in data management and sharing across services through joint digital protocols and platforms that are accessed based on various layers by professionals and people using services.
- Improvements in digital competences of social services professionals through co-design models of developers and practitioners.
- New approaches to include people using services in the design of social services.
- Programmes reshaping face-to-face social services to become more accessible and efficient.
- Programmes reshaping social work with children and families including intermediary approaches to prevent children from taking into care.
- Transformational care programmes for children and young people.
- Home and community-based models to support people with disabilities, older people to remain in their homes and communities.
- Innovative social inclusion approaches for unaccompanied children leaving care, migrants and refugees.
- Integrated employment and social inclusion programmes combining benefits and services for the inclusion of people furthest from the labour market
- Joint needs assessment between professionals and with people using social services themselves.
- Innovative community approaches (e.g. co-design, digital competence development) to maximise the use of technology amongst people who use services.
- Digitalisation of social services access through chatbots, improvements in application processes, digitalisation of application forms and apps that promote social inclusion.