Stockport FLAG - Stockport Council
Stockport FLAG (For Local Advice and Guidance) is an information and advice service managed and delivered through a consortium of voluntary sector organisations working in Stockport. FLAG was launched in January 2010. It offers assisted signposting and referral to adult health and social care services available to Stockport residents. 'Customers' are able to contact the service by telephone, website, or face to face at the town centre office or at several outreach locations across the borough including community cafes and health centres as well as community events.
At the first meeting, a person works with a FLAG advisor to identify their health and social care needs and to find out if advocacy support is needed. Referrals and assisted signposts are then made to the most appropriate specialist services, regardless of whether they are provided by voluntary or community organisations, Stockport Council or CCG, or a private organisation. Staff use the My Care My Choice website and their own specialist database that has been developed over the years of operation, to access information about the services that will meet the needs of the individual.
The vast majority of referrals are then followed up to make sure that people have been able to access the right service and their needs have been met. A key role of FLAG is to identify recurring problems and gather feedback from service users to help shape existing and future services in Stockport.
Current staffing levels are as follows; a Project Manager, Senior Advisor, six Advisors and an Administrative Officer. Staff are part time (total hours equal 6 FTE). The office is open for drop-ins, telephone calls and appointments from 9am - 4.30pm, Monday - Friday.
Who is the service for?
Any resident of Stockport aged 18+, or those looking for health and social care services on behalf of a Stockport resident. It is available to all adults with emerging or identified needs.
To provide an independent, free and confidential assisted signposting to adult health and social care services in Stockport. The service offers people who want to access non traditional services, those with low to moderate needs and people who are not eligible for state funding.
Why is the service being developed?
This service was set up as a result of Stockport Council's Adult Social Care working in partnership with the voluntary sector in order to identify opportunities for joining up services as part of the previous Government's Transforming Social Care proposals.
Were people who use services and carers and other key stakeholders involved in setting up this service?
Stockport Council conducted a series of stakeholder events and consultations to gather information on how people accessed health and social care information and advice. Customers wanted to know that they could access information and advice in the way that they wanted, for example, access to better online and written information and advice, the option to call or email someone, or get face to face advice. People said they wanted information and advice which embraced their skills, abilities and interests rather than on what they couldn't do for themselves. They thought that the ideal service would encourage people to participate in their communities and give people positive messages about having choice and being in control of their lives. They also wanted to receive the right information the first time and to have an up-front, clear indication about eligibility and costs for services and support.
Has the service met the intended outcomes?
FLAG has met all of its project outcomes. To date, there have been more than 8500 people registered as FLAG customers, between them generating more than 11,000 enquiries. Follow up calls in 2011/2012 found 1013 were classified as successfully placed with all needs met, 415 were successfully placed with some needs met, 1387 had received accurate and relevant information and 42 said their needs had not been met or identified.
The FLAG service has a strong commitment to customer service and has retained its Customer Service Excellence (CSE) quality mark, increasing the level achieved in years two and three to Compliance Plus.
Do you have information on costs or savings?
The annual funding for FLAG in 2011-2012 was just under £180,000. The service is currently wholly funded by Stockport Council.
What were the learning points in setting up this service?
It can be difficult for members of the public and professionals to understand why there is 'another' information and advice service. There is a constant need to outline our role and purpose as a signposting service; to convey that FLAG is an additional promotional tool for organisations, making sure people get to the right service the first time.
Positive ongoing relationships with other organisations are crucial. Community presence and strong branding is also essential.
Julia Hewer, Senior Advisor, Stockport FLAG (For Local Advice and Guidance)
Phone: 0161 474 1042