Every organisation has its own ways of working. We talk a lot about providing tools, resources and capabilities needed for people and places to creatively address problems. Before I joined FutureGov this was an interesting idea that sounded great in theory, but now I’ve seen how it’s done in practice with a council working to create better outcomes for residents.
At the start of this year, I joined FutureGov as a Service Designer. My first FutureGov project has been working alongside the Benefits and Housing Needs Service at Hackney Council, exploring how collaboration between professionals can provide better support for people with complex needs.
We’ve worked with Hackney Council on many projects, and they’ve fully adopted working in ways that make change happen for people living in the borough. They embrace projects with a user-centred approach, encouraging diverse teams to work across departments. This project was no different. It showed me how working closely and collaboratively, across organisational boundaries and with communities, can make a real difference.
Collaborating across organisational boundaries
Many people who experience homelessness have complex needs and have experienced difficult life events. This project focused on supporting residents who have multiple and complex needs as the council works with them to relieve their homelessness and find sustainable housing solutions.
The service had secured funding to embed two social workers to help support the existing teams as they provide a holistic and psychologically informed service for residents. Working as a blended team with Hackney staff, we were asked to design a way to integrate the social worker roles into the Benefits and Housing Needs Service, to support staff and deliver better housing outcomes for residents.
The social workers offered one-to-one case advice and group case reviews of complex needs, to build the knowledge and skills of officers. They engaged in peer to peer learning, communication between service areas was redesigned and resident facing tools were developed. All of this builds on the foundation of the shared plan agreed with residents and is overseen by the Homeless, Health and Housing multidisciplinary team, working together to improve the resident experience.
Encouraging this collaboration has allowed staff to not only tap into greater resources and networks, but also grow their own confidence and understanding of how to support residents. The social workers maintained these links back into their professional practice and the project was governed by a blended leadership group that includes staff from Adult Social Care, Mental Health, Public Health, Corporate Strategy and Commissioning.
Meeting complex needs
Our focus was preventing crises and improving temporary accommodation placements for people with multiple complex needs. The areas of intervention covered identifying these residents as early as possible and building on strengths and assets to develop sustainable support plans. Exploring these specific areas helped us implement simple immediate solutions and to scope wider and long term interventions alongside validating the impact of the social workers' work within the team.
Taking a familiar and user-centred approach, we designed and prototyped five immediate solutions to help residents currently in and moving to temporary housing.