Engage staff to boost take up of online services

Persuading social care employees and delivery partners of the importance of digital in the future of social care is key to driving online take up in the sector, according to the latest briefing in a new series developed jointly by Socitm, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).

The briefing, Promotion of Online Services, says that all employees and partners involved in the delivery of social care must understand how online facilities work and why they are increasingly important. Employees should be seen as digital champions, able to persuade those clients and carers who have not yet done so to go online.

To achieve this, social care departments need to develop a good understanding of current trends in the development of the internet and, in particular, of the major influences affecting the digital divide.

They should be collaborating with and promoting corporate digital inclusion programmes of awareness, training and ongoing support, whether or not online social care services are being introduced, and must learn how to support online take-up through assisted digital approaches.

The briefing cites councils where employee and partner engagement has been a core activity in driving online take-up, including Kirklees, Liverpool, Hertfordshire Croydon, and Newham.


Understanding the system

Where employees understand how the online system works, says the briefing, they can help clients and carers with whom they interact to use the same facilities. They can also set the expectation that council services will be online wherever possible and, as they are likely also to be local residents, they can be powerful champions by word of mouth with family, friends, and neighbours. If negative about change, they can quickly become a major barrier.

As well as delivering the message about employee engagement, the briefing provides a comprehensive and practical guide to seven aspects of driving take up of online services.

In the developing online world it describes the profile of current internet users and explains that those not online are likely to be older, poorer, less well educated, more severely disabled and living in rural isolation. However this is not a reason for social care to ignore online delivery – in fact the opposite is true.

Promotion of Online Services can be downloaded free from www.socitm.net/research-improvement/engaging-citizens-online.

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