We’ve been working with Hackney Council and MadeTech, collaboratively redesigning their Benefits and Housing Needs. We’re inviting you to follow our work through shared sprint notes as we design a service which is easily understood, fair, accessible and beneficial to Hackney residents. These sprint notes were first published by Hackney. You can follow our process on HackIT, and the other great work happening at Hackney Council.

Those of you that have been following these sprints notes will notice that one of the main themes that underpins the work we’re doing is sharing information more effectively so we can create better outcomes for staff and residents. With this in mind, we’re happy to share with you our latest updates.

Understanding Vulnerability

Last time, you might remember we had designed what our Vulnerability and Strengths snapshot should look like based on previous research with staff. The good news is we have now finished building the prototype and have staff throughout the service testing it.

At this week’s Show & Share, David spoke about his experience of using the snapshot tool.

Vulnerability snapshot tool experience demo

It was great to have David share his experience of using the tool. He also provided some valuable feedback around how we can improve the tool moving forward.

How to improve it:

  • use council-wide: could be useful information for other teams and services to see
  • more clarity on whether this is vulnerabilities of the whole family (or lead applicant)
  • pull vulnerabilities information from existing systems (e.g. UHW) where it already exists

Why this is useful:

  • it helps us all have an instant general understanding of a client’s vulnerabilities from a single system (e.g. Housing Reg and Lettings teams before putting forward of a property)

On top of this, we’re starting to chat with other staff about their experiences, here are some of the highlights:

Staff appreciate the simplicity and ease of use but need support to build it into their day-to-day processes.

“It’s getting into the routine of doing it really. I’m not sure that we will always remember — but that’s our problem!”

Staff see the potential for this to improve the way they work with residents to resolve their situation.

“I think it gives a good snapshot in a moment in time… giving that picture will speed up communication and calls with the client.”

Staff who have less resident contact don’t always feel it’s appropriate to open up a discussion around vulnerability.

“I’m not dealing with them at the start of their claims so it’s a bit tricky to probe too deep into personal issues they may be facing.”

Thank you again to all the staff who volunteered to be part of testing so far. Over the next month we’ll be working on:

  • accessibility to all staff in Benefits & Housing Needs and Customer Services (via Single View for continued testing)
  • impact measuring (service, user and return on investment)
  • getting ready for a service assessment to scale to live

Evidence Store

What is an Evidence Store? You may remember something called the ‘Doc Upload’ Tool. We’ve renamed it and are starting to build a much larger and more stable platform for residents and staff to use.

The Evidence Store

  • a simple, fast way for staff and customers to upload and manage evidence documents, improving efficiency and user experience
  • once uploaded, staff will have the ability to easily manage the documents and attach to a resident’s case

Over the last month, we’ve been building the API for the Evidence Store to work across some other tools e.g. Single View. All that good work is now finished and the API is ready to go. We’ll be looking to ensure that the new API saves time, reduces duplication and is easier for staff and residents to use.

Of course, it’s a little hard to test a ‘techie’ thing like an API. So we’re building some tests, time trials and light-weight prototypes to do this. Updates to follow in future sprint notes.

Our vision for Evidence Store is to provide officers with a seamless end-to-end experience from requesting documents, to reviewing and signing them off. Below are some screenshots of what the experience will look like for officers — approving and tracking the documents have been uploaded. The customer’s own unique ‘store’.

Evidence Store API
Evidence Store user interface demo

What are we doing next?

  • benchmarking how long things take now, so we can see if this new way is an improvement
  • starting to test the new process of uploading documents from Doc Upload into Single View
  • uncovering insights from current usage of Doc Upload to inform the next steps of the Evidence Store

Self-service tools

Over the last month, we’ve been working on articulating our future resident journey via a number of self-service tools.

Self service tools journey diagram

We’ve been prototyping all of these individual tools. Trying to work out if they are feasible and what sort of impact they’ll have on a resident and the service. In this edition, we’ll mainly be talking about ‘Taking steps towards finding a property’ and ‘Understanding my housing options’.

Finding a property tool
Housing options tool

We’ll be taking these two ideas into testing, hoping to find out how the tools help residents understand their housing options and assist with looking for a privately rented property.

Shared Plan

It’s been a few weeks since we last updated you on the progress of the Shared Plan. We’ve been doing a lot of testing, and interviews with staff and residents around how they find using a ‘Shared Plan’ vs a ‘Personal Housing Plan’.

Our main aims of the research were:

  • understand how officers currently conduct assessments and create PHPs, and how the Shared Plan might work within this process
  • conduct usability testing to help us improve the experience

Below is a snippet of what we’re finding out.

Using the shared plan findings
Current shared plan process

With this in mind, we’re going to start work on some new experiments. Testing a standardised pre-assessment plan with residents at approach:

  • will it help reinforce the message that they’ll be required to complete actions during their journey?
  • will it manage their expectations and help people come better prepared?
  • can we free up time during the assessment to focus on actions to address their situation?

Get in touch

We’re always happy to answer any questions you have about FutureGov and discuss how we can work together.

Contact us