Signposting older people to the support they need

Between 2001 and 2011, Britain's population of people over 85 grew by nearly a quarter. And with more people living longer, the demand for Adult Social Care (ASC) has reached unprecedented heights.

Much of that demand comes from people who aren't sure if they're even eligible for support. Councils can receive hundreds of adult social care calls per week -- but of those calls, often only 15% are from local residents who meet the requirements for assistance.

Lantern is an easy-to-use web tool that allows people to identify their own social care eligibility, reducing staff time spent on calls and costs spent on assessment processes. The tool guides people through a short questionnaire about their daily life, capturing their needs and presenting them with a personalised list of recommended support providers in the local area. Those with higher needs can have their answers submitted directly to local social services teams for further assessment.

Even with borderline cases that appear to have low needs, the tool still produced the right result.


One of the most popular requests we receive from councils is to develop a local service directory. Lantern, Local Offer and Scout all have searchable, filterable directories of community services. Users are signposted to these services based on the route they take through the app or the filters they select. We’ve come close in the past to building an independent microservice to manage the service directory data or at least isolate the relevant code into its own reusable unit. We’re reconsidering the possibility again for an upcoming project.

By enabling users to explore their social care needs as simply as possible, Lantern saves resources for social care teams – up to £100,000 a year or more. It also removes additional strain from services in high demand, shifting the workload towards a user-owned, user-managed, and user-controlled system.

Smarter self-assessment with Lantern

When we started developing Lantern with our partners at Surrey County Council, all we knew was that there had to be a better way to handle adult social care assessment. Councils across Britain were spending thousands of pounds on individual ASC assessments, even though only 15% of those assessments were for people who were ultimately eligible for care.

Through a co-design process with service users and practitioners, we ended up developing and launching an intuitive online tool that helped reduce the demand on social care teams while signposting local residents to get quick answers about whether they (or someone they cared about) was likely to be eligible for assistance from the council.

So far, Lantern’s helped local government find significant savings while empowering citizens to take charge of their own care. But we knew we wanted to do more with the product — and that’s why we’re excited to announce the launch of Lantern v2.

Lantern user interface demo

As a team, we always thought that Lantern should be a tool that also helped people find community-based support — not just if they were eligible for care, but what local services might best meet their needs. However, that thought had to take a back seat in Lantern 1.0. We needed to focus on the first step of finding care before we could worry about what came next.

All that’s changed with the new Lantern. Based on user feedback, we’ve developed a whole new system that provides a curated list of relevant resources based on need and location. It’s more than a data dump — it’s a custom-built filtering solution that only displays the right resources for each user.

Lantern filtering demo

Now, Lantern learns who you are just by answering a few simple questions about you and how you live your life. It’s a feature inspired by sites like Google and Amazon — it automatically adapts to show you what services make sense for the needs you have.

Another big thing we’ve changed isn’t particularly visible to end-users, but it makes a big difference for the councils that use it. Previously, Lantern wasn’t able to support locality teams within an area (in other words, anything smaller than a council). We’ve souped up our back end, and now users can directly connect with the right teams. This means a huge cut-down on admin tasks and a lot more time for front-line staff to work on things that really matter.

And finally, we’ve given the entire product a makeover. It’s not cosmetic: everything we’ve changed, from branding to buttons, was designed to better meet the needs of our users. The result is a warmer, friendlier, better-organised system that helps people understand exactly what they’re eligible for and what to do next.

There are a lot of other smaller features we’ve added — from downloadable shortlists to cleaner searches — but the above are some of our biggest wins. We’re excited about the new Lantern, not just because it’s a better product, but because of what it represents: one more way in which we’re committed to taking good-enough products and making them really, truly great.

Key features

  • explore their social care needs by answering a series of questions
  • access a customised list of local services based on their answers
  • receive an indication of their social care eligibility
  • submit their assessment to the relevant social care team

Benefits for local authorities

  • view and download submitted assessments
  • quickly access relevant information about local services
  • update Lantern's database of questions as needed

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