14 September 2020

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.

A few weeks have passed since our last entry, and a lot has happened. Really, a lot. The project team has now come to the end of our year-long project, so here’s a recap of the impact over the last phase, and what you can expect to see next in Hackney.

Understanding Vulnerability Snapshot

Yes, we’ve changed the name from ‘Understanding Vulnerability’ to ‘Snapshot’. If you haven’t been following the Snapshot allows staff to build a bigger picture of the resident’s situation when they contact any part of the service.

Hackney Benefits Housing Understanding Vulnerability

Last time we showed you some feedback we had from testing. As designers do, we started to iterate the tool and ensure a smooth transition from ‘Alpha’ to ‘Beta’. We also ran 1–1 interviews and feedback surveys to understand if staff can learn more about a resident, and if they can recommend additional resources during a conversation when using Snapshot:

  • 63% agreed they learnt something new or unexpected about the resident
  • 64% recommended a resource or useful service to the resident during the interaction
Hackney Benefits Housing Hypothesis and Outcomes

Above you’ll see our hypothesis and the outcomes we hoped to achieve. At the moment we believe we’re on our way to start achieving some of our short-term and medium-term outcomes, with staff reporting:

Hackney Benefits Housing Hypothesis Beyond Duty
Hackney Benefits Housing Hypothesis Understanding Needs

As further development is now paused on the Snapshot tool, we’re looking to set up an 8–10 week pilot that goes deeper into user research. Once these weeks are over, we should have enough information to help inform our beta backlog, and know what to do next.

Evidence Store

Hackney Benefits Housing Evidence Store

Over the last month, we’ve been building the API for the Evidence Store to work across other tools such as Single View. All that good work is now finished and the API is ready to go. We’ll be making sure the new API:

  • saves time
  • reduces duplication
  • is easier for staff and residents to use

The API has now launched, allowing staff to request documents from Single View. This means staff can prepare for a conversation with a resident by reading all their case notes, mark any vulnerabilities and strengths and then request supporting documents needed for a benefit claim (and more) from one place.

Hackney Benefits Housing Measuring Success

This will save staff a lot of time, and we’ll be doing further benchmarking to make sure we’re delivering the impact we’re aiming for.

Self-Service Tools and Shared Plan

Why are these things together? After the last few weeks, some of the work has blended and we’ve found that having a ‘pre-assessment plan’ to give to a resident with easy to follow steps has proved extremely valuable.

The pre-assessment plan
The pre-assessment plan is taking the shared plan we’ve created and allowing it to be created before initial contact with a resident; either at the assessment stage or the first conversation. It helps residents understand their housing options and what they can do to prevent their own situation getting worse.

Hackney Benefits Housing Pre Assessment Plan

After some initial testing:

  • shared plans were created and sent to 12 residents
  • 7 out of 12 residents completed actions in their plans (58%)
  • of these 7, they completed 52 out of 67 actions set (78%)
  • overall, 52 out of 100 actions set were completed (52%)

This shows great success through helping manage expectations and allowing us to understand how residents engage with these tools.

Multidisciplinary shared plan
Another use of the shared plan has been one that’s created with different teams and professionals across the council. By breaking down silos the council can offer a resident better outcomes and a consistent approach. We now have four of these plans, owned by the benefits and housing needs service and working with partners.

Hackney Benefits Housing Multidisciplinary Plans

Over the next eight weeks, the council is running an experiment to see if using the Shared Plan with residents who are in the most complex situations will save staff time and result in better outcomes.

  • does this save staff time in casework (moving from email chains, responding to enquiries)?
  • does this improve the experience for staff (working together to solve a problem, making progress towards an outcome)?
  • does this improve the experience for residents (transparency, clarity, sense of ownership)?
  • does this result in better outcomes for residents (case resolved sooner, staff confidence in the outcome)?
Hackney Benefits Housing Next8 Weeks

What does it all mean?

What do all of these things mean together and how do they help a resident on their journey?

Over the last year, we’ve been working with the benefits and housing needs service to design and build a service that we’re proud of. A service which is easily understood, fair, accessible and beneficial to Hackney residents.

A service that’s joined-up, can expand the good work already happening and delivers the best outcome for a resident. Over the last week, we’ve been capturing stories of how these tools work together, to achieve our vision.

Hackney Benefits Housing Coordinated Support
Hackney Benefits Housing Joined Up Service

There’s a lot more work to do, but this past year we’ve seen staff change the way they work and build the future they want to see.

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