This Council rapidly deploys digital services to care for the vulnerable during COVID-19
For the private sector, virtual services aren’t entirely new. For the public sector, COVID-19 has hastened digital transformation. Many councils have proven that the virtual delivery of services is vital, especially during a lockdown.
Nottingham City Council and their small (but mighty) team of developers are a great example of how local governments have rapidly deployed digital services to meet the needs of their citizens during COVID-19.
Process to recruit care workers shrinks from weeks to days
The Council was looking to recruit care workers for their vulnerable population, a process that normally takes weeks. The Council’s developers got to work, building a quicker, more accessible process for care worker applications through Granicus govService.
The Council’s goal was to increase application volume. After receiving their assignment, the development team (a team of two full-time developers and one part-time developer) quickly created a new application process in govService that reduces processing time from weeks to days. So far, 718 applications have moved through to assessment, and if approved, will get care to the city’s most vulnerable residents quickly.
Council adds new services, released in under 48 hours
The Council’s success with care worker recruitment and application processing has influenced more departments to consider their processes. Transforming COVID-19 related services to digital services begins with support from the senior management team. They pass requests to the development team, who have risen to occasion by designing, building, and releasing digital services in as little as 24 to 48 hours.
Automated call centre process helps save lives
One of these services was the creation of a call centre with a process managed in govService. The Council contacted all citizens who the government identified as vulnerable and had not requested help through gov.uk. If a citizen didn’t respond after three calls, a safe-and-well check was triggered. CPs then went and knocked on the door of that resident to check their wellbeing. This has proved to be a lifesaving process in some cases. Overall, Nottingham made 8,467 calls, and 1,348 citizens asked to be registered for help through gov.uk.
Digital service helps small businesses apply for grants
Another digital service was built after the Government announced its business support grant. Nottingham once again jumped into action to design and build a fluid process, moving through application to payment. In a month, they received 4,380 applications from small businesses. 2,900 businesses in Nottingham have been awarded the grant, helping to protect the local economy during the crisis.
Digital services support food parcel delivery
Community support powered by digital services has helped many vulnerable and sheltering residents of Nottingham. Through processes in govService, the Council has received 121 online orders for food boxes and offered 833 free food parcels to citizens. A further 1,860 help requests have been triaged to get help with prescriptions, groceries and essential items. In development is a process to facilitate calls to around 4,000 citizens who are over 70 or identified by their GP as potentially at risk.
Nottingham staff are also finalising an end-to-end process to manage the stock, requests, and distribution of PPE to care workers, moving away from a paper and Excel-based approach.
Nottingham has been successful for many reasons. Their story provides these key takeaways:
- COVID-19 has encouraged local government to become flexible and open to new technology.
- Local governments are focusing on outcomes they want to achieve rather than preserving outdated processes.
- Senior management buy-in leads to quick and successful outcomes.
- Even with a small team, you can move mountains quickly.
- Digital services can evolve as quickly as government guidelines.
Bringing it all together
While Councils may not be able to care for their citizens face-to-face, they’re still making meaningful impacts through digital services. As Nottingham has demonstrated, one critical service transformed to digital can be the catalyst for many departments and initiatives to ditch paper, reduce processing times, and focus on what matters: the wellbeing of citizens.