CASE STUDY: Digital transformation supporting vulnerable residents

Vulnerable individuals across Greater Manchester who were experiencing, or are at risk of, rough sleeping were often asked to retell their story, sometimes because the information that was available to support services was incomplete, or not joined up.

The A Bed Every Night (ABEN) scheme aims to provide a bed and personal support for anyone who is sleeping rough or at imminent risk of sleeping rough in Greater Manchester and a lack of a common database for services like ABEN can often result in manual processes, duplication of effort, and in some cases questionable data, meaning for professionals, supporting individuals with the right level of support becomes a harder task.

The initial case management system for ABEN was set up as a rapid response to support people experiencing street homelessness through a specific period of extreme cold weather in 2018.

"We needed a consistent and reliable way to manage referrals, record information on the support people were getting, track people’s journeys through the service and demonstrate the impact ABEN was having." Joe Donohue, Homelessness Strategy Principal, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

The vision for change was clear and during ‘discovery phase’ we heard that “to put an end to rough sleeping. Multi-agency, person-centred working, supported by a common approach to data management is a reality. Data is shared with relevant organisations and used to make evidence-based decisions, with the aim of preventing (or reducing) rough sleeping. The person journey can be viewed, and data is more joined up, current and complete. Data is ‘more strength based’ and vulnerable individuals have more choice and control over their data and the support they receive.”

Launched in 2021, the digitisation of the case management system used by the ABEN service created a consistent online platform for the inputting, recording and sharing, and offer coordinated support for vulnerable individuals across Greater Manchester. The new digitised system allows the secure storage of data and provide an appropriate level of data at a local and regional level. 

“Digitising a lot of data into a single database, was no mean feat! It involved a huge amount of work from colleagues at Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester’s local authorities to find, clean and upload historic data, whilst creating a new set of processes and undergoing training on the new system.

Ultimately, this difficult task was worth it. We now have a ‘live’ database which is intuitive to use and provides us with ready access to reports and dashboards – we know about how ABEN is doing and where some of the challenges are. We review this data alongside case studies, to identify what is working well, where we need to improve and actions, we can take to ensure we are providing the best possible service" said Joe.

The new, digitised case management system was designed to:

  • Enhance user experience and reduce admin – the previous way of working could take up to two hours every month to collate, quality assure and represent data from a number of different spreadsheets
  • Improve data quality and currency - quicker access to live, accurate data to inform performance management of the ABEN service
  • Allow system users to develop personalised reports and dashboards – allowing relevant professionals to create and use bespoke reports to suit their need. For example, analysing changes in the number of people moving on from the ABEN service, with the ability to now look at user characteristics and address any patterns

Since launch, the ABEN case management system has grown into a comprehensive, 365-days-a-year offer for anyone experiencing, or at risk of, rough sleeping in Greater Manchester. If you’ve heard a statistic about A Bed Every Night in the last year or so, it’s certainly come from our new system.