Client Information System
In early 2007, senior management at Carr-Gomm identified a need for a Client Information System to work alongside their existing Context Housing Management system. CTX provided information about their properties, but they needed more - to be able to manage the client support process...yes
In 1965, the late Richard Carr-Gomm OBE – who also set up the Abbeyfield and Morpeth Societies – bought a house with friends in Bermondsey, south London, and established the first Carr-Gomm Society. His aim was to offer a safe home and support to lonely and vulnerable people. Inspired by Richard’s vision, other people set up similar societies in numerous towns around England.
Carr-Gomm is now a national charity providing high quality support and housing services that place individuals at the centre of planning and decision making, enabling them to have control over their lives. Each of its projects is set up in the community to meet local needs, working closely with local authorities and other agencies to design and deliver a range of specialist services. These include providing move-on options for homeless people, day services for people with mental health problems, help for families to remain in their homes, housing for people with learning disabilities and support services for women escaping domestic violence.
Today, Carr-Gomm has over 300 housing schemes, around 80 other community support services and an award-winning client involvement programme, supporting over 4,000 people a year.
In early 2007, senior management at Carr-Gomm identified a need for a Client Information System (CIS) to work alongside their existing Context (CTX) Housing Management system. CTX provided information about their properties, but they needed more - to be able to manage the client support process to achieve improved outcomes in independent living, preventing homelessness and integration into communities.
The new CIS system had to offer a broad range of stable functionality, but also had to be capable of evolving with the future growth of Carr-Gomm. The system needed to be easy to use and reduce administrative effort, allowing staff to be more efficient in getting on with the important work of supporting clients. Key to achieving these efficiency improvements was the ability to feed electronic information back to the Centre for Housing Research, based at the University of St. Andrews, thus contributing to their programmes which provide accurate and up to date information for policy makers.
Matching the business process
During the system selection stage of the project, Carr-Gomm provided a very clear requirements document, detailing the 'client pathway' (a workflow) and the acceptance tests that the software would need to pass.
In just two days, thankQ was able to build a mock up of the main client form, including the important data fields and the workflow to reflect their business process. This rapid prototype was made possible thanks to the unique set of configuration tools used by thankQ, which allows fields and business processes to be added alongside the standard thankQ CRM functionality, without the need for conventional ‘base level’ programming.
Once thankQ started work on the project, the first objective was to fully train the Carr-Gomm project team on the functionality available in the standard solution – this means everybody can start to think in the same way. The delivery of the project was then broken into a number of stages, meaning key functional objectives could be provided quickly, saving Carr-Gomm temporary staff costs, with the richer functionality to follow.
The thankQ CIS
A Housing module – the Carr-Gomm CIS - has been built alongside the existing thankQ options. This module allows clients placed into services to follow the client pathway, a process required by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which includes support planning and needs and risk assessments, taking clients from initial enquiry through application, interview, placement, support and finally, moving on.
Coming out of the system are regulatory reports containing information for CORE (COntinuous REcording System), which adds to data that enables Housing Associations to benchmark their performance against peer organisations; the CRF (Client Record Form) required by the government-funded Supporting People programme through which Carr-Gomm provides some of their services and DCLG Short Term and Long Term Outcomes forms. All these reports are automatically validated and submitted electronically directly to the Centre for Housing Research, based at St Andrews University.
The subsequent phase of the project made possible the management of Supporting People Contracts in the form of Performance Indicator Workbooks. The CIS has also been extended to include the Service Dashboard, a series of performance indicators in tabular form, aggregated at various service structure levels (National, Area, Authority etc.) giving a facility for managing the structure of Carr-Gomm support services.
Carr-Gomm operates across 8 UK regions, with staff working in regional offices, remotely from home or from housing schemes. thankQ trained the trainer, and Carr-Gomm now operates a rolling programme of training for new staff and refresher training for existing staff. Over 300 staff were trained in the first three months after roll out with availability for all staff within six months.