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Why a co-designed social care system implementation works

Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) together with Westminster City Council: a co-designed social care system that works

RBKC had a much-loved in-house social care system, which was at the end of its life and no longer possible to maintain. After much debate, a decision was made to move to a new system. The idea of change often seems appealing, however many of us, understandably, baulk at change when the time comes!


Read on to learn more about how RBKC and Westminster successfully implemented their new system, collaboration and co-production being integral to this success.

Over the past 18 months, BetterGov has been on a journey, working in partnership with Children’s Services to configure and design the new social care system. As RBKC’s new system will be shared with Westminster Council, it was also an ideal opportunity to co-design new shared ways of working in the system, taking the best ideas from both authorities.

The results speak for themselves. We have immensely enjoyed this collaboration with the boroughs and the suppliers. In our view, this is what ‘good looks like’!​

Practitioner led, not IT team design

How can we make this new system work best for our practitioners? This was the challenge laid out, and focus, for the project team from day one. Fortunately, given the unique situation, where RBKC’s Bi-Borough partner, Westminster, was already using the system, we had some fantastic co-design sessions. In these sessions, both Kensington and Westminster practitioners shared what worked well, and what didn’t work so well for them.

Practitioners bought their expertise in local social work and business practice. BetterGov provided the requisite system knowledge across a range of disciplines and had experience from many implementations to compare and contrast different ways of working. This collaboration in a structured workshop format helped guide practitioners to practical solutions that kept recording simple, whilst also meeting the needs of statutory reporting and audit compliance.

Collaboration, not only from a design perspective but also from a support perspective

We wanted to provide a deeper level of upskilling as part of this project. We designed the project team to ensure a mix of BetterGov and Authority staff, the concept behind this being to pair senior BetterGov staff to work alongside Authority colleagues. This partnership delivery model naturally upskilled the internal support team and allowed a seamless transition into business as usual support.

Seeing the results

Given Westminster were already using the system, we were able to deliver improvements to priority forms and workflow early in the project. This ensured immediate benefits could be realised by Westminster staff. Some examples of positive feedback in this area included;


“The LAC process is so much easier and quicker to use”

“The Referral forms are much simpler and less of a tick-box exercise”

Whilst adopting a ‘big bang’ implementation for RBKC, we used a ‘waterfall’ approach for Westminster. The approach to the upskilling of internal staff worked extremely effectively as the Project Team were able to hand off areas to business as usual support and continue with the implementation, without getting bogged down.

Training: Social Work practice first, system second

A new social care system with a co-designed work process involves changes to working practice as well as simply learning how to use the features of a new system. BetterGov trainers worked alongside service leads to ensure key practice messages were embedded and a key component of a blended training programme. After all, learning how to open a Child and Family Assessment form is arguably the easy part, but practitioners also need practice guidance on how to complete the new form questions well.

How was the Kensington social care system implemented on time and under budget?

Delivering technology that supports social work practice and is an enabler for change is always challenging. There is the complexity of migrating data from one system to another; understanding and developing processes to meet local requirements; training users and ensuring they are logged in and up and running on day one; working with multiple internal and external stakeholders among many other challenges.


BetterGov has delivered similar programmes of work across the UK enabling an understanding and management of key risk areas from project mobilisation through to Go Live. Resources including business analysts, who understand the business of social care, and technical teams, who live and breathe systems configuration and data, overseen by Project Managers, who specialise in Social Care system delivery, ensure the right people are deployed at the right time to manage budget expenditure and project constraints and dependencies.

So, what next?

Now that the Kensington system is implemented, the teams are starting to feel more confident using the system without specialist on-site support from BetterGov and local support teams. Nonetheless, help is always on hand, and with our implementation of new digital channels for support the council support team are easily available on a video call.