MyLife online directory - London Borough of Redbridge

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Project description

'MyLife' is a web platform developed by the London Borough of Redbridge, it allows people to access information about care and support services. It includes an online directory with specialist tools that enable people to make a particular search and save it for the future in the 'MyPad' area. It also allows people to build information sheets that are tailored to their individual needs by selecting the guide they want and answering some simple questions. There is a 'Find out more' section where people can read about specific topics in more depth.

The project began as an online directory called the Adult Information Directory before it moved to the 'MyLife' platform that is integrated with the client database CareFirst. The plan is that, in future, self-assessment will be accessed and used via the site.

Who is the service for?

The online directory is for anyone who is looking for information and advice in relation to social care and community support for adults who live in Redbridge. This includes anyone who works for an organisation that provides information and advice to adults about services and support in Redbridge. The directory also provides information for residents about other aspects of community life, such as getting around, things to do and money matters.

Intended outcomes

The council's aim is for the directory to be a source of good information and advice for all Redbridge residents who need it, and a sound basis for all organisations working with adults who may need social care and community support in the borough. In addition, the service will give indicative advice on whether an individual is eligible for social care services and what the cost might be.

Why is the service being developed?

The directory has been developed as part of the council's universal services, a key element of the wider agenda towards personalisation. The council is now looking at developing the resource further in order to meet the emerging duties from the Care and Support White Paper, offering not just information but also good advice. The directory will be developed into a new website, with the aim of making it interactive with online self assessment and eventually an e-marketplace.

Were the people who use services and carers and other key stakeholders involved in setting up this service?

The online directory was tested before it went live by adults with a learning disability, who were also involved in developing the council's Wiki website. Consultation and testing also took place with the borough's cross-service user and carer consultation group, called Redbridge Service User Research Group. This group is now part of the borough's user-led organisation, 'Centre for Independent and Inclusive Living Redbridge' and has been renamed CIILR Voice.

Local statutory and voluntary organisations were involved at an early stage in discussions about the website and directory, and front-line staff from these organisations were invited to test the directory before it went live.

Has the service met the intended outcomes?

The MyLife directory had 54,593 hits in 2012. The council is exploring ways to capture how people use the information they access, and what they do next. This is likely to include running campaigns and then measuring the impact. Our systems and development team have been identifying areas where searches have been made and information has not been available, which enables any gaps to be filled.

No formal feedback has yet been requested from people who use the directory, but the council is looking at ways of improving the site's accessibility for everyone who might use it. A user group of staff from organisations using the system is being set up to help improve the quality of information and the functionality of the site.

Do you have information on costs or savings?

2009/10: The Adult Information Directory (AID) cost £15k, and approximately £30k was spent on gathering information and creating records.
2010/11: Maintenance costs for AID were approximately £12.5k, plus £495 for a speech-enabling tool.
2011/12: The new MyLife platform cost £48k, plus a further £12.5k for maintenance.
2012/13: Maintenance costs were around £12.5k, with no development costs.

The council envisages that annual maintenance costs will increase as more robust plans are implemented to keep the information up-to-date and to expand the advice section.

What were the learning points in setting up this service?

  • Consult at an early stage, and throughout the project, with staff, external stakeholders and people who use services and carers
  • Capacity is needed to keep the information live and up to date so do not under-estimate the amount of maintenance required for the system
  • Think about concrete ways to measure the impact of the service
  • Do not under-estimate how much work is needed to publicise the site, not just to members of the public but also to staff working for the council and partner organisations.

Contact details

Angela Matthews
Improvement Programme Manager, London Borough of Redbridge
Telephone: 020 8708 5122