Swindon Directory of Information, Support & Advice (DISA)
Swindon Directory of Information, Support and Advice (DISA) is an online resource to help people and practitioners quickly find information to help people make the most of their lives, in the way they choose.
The database was originally created by an experienced Assistant Care Manager who collected information about local resources that could improve both the range and choice of options offered by colleagues in the Adult Community Team.
Initially this provided information that might be of use to older people and people with disabilities, and it is now being extended in both range and scope. It includes information about services such as advice centres, equipment providers, transport, social clubs and befriending services, as well as information about national organisations (such as organisations focused on specific health conditions).
The database was launched as a paper document for practitioners in October 2012 and rapidly became a highly valued and effective resource. SEQOL then created on online version for people who use services and carers, plus local service providers and voluntary organisations. The online directory offers tailored search options, multiple languages and accessibility across a range of devices, including mobile phones and tablets. It went live in June 2013.
Who is the service for?
The database was initially designed for practitioners in the Adult Community Team at SEQOL. It was then extended to other service providers around Swindon who expressed an interest. It has now been made universally available to anyone who is looking for care and support in Swindon and to all voluntary and private providers of services.
DISA aims to achieve the following outcomes:
- Enable people to be more independent by providing them with useful and relevant information to help them find support to meet their needs
- Reduce demand for statutory services by improving prevention
- Save practitioner time by having a quick and easy reference tool
- Increase the choices available both to members of the public and practitioners
- Make the information as accessible as possible, by providing a facility to translate it into as many languages as possible
- Allow people and practitioners to identify not only what services offer but also where they are located, via embedded Google maps
- Provide a free-to-use portal for voluntary and community groups to publicise what they offer on an equal footing with larger organisations and commercial providers.
Why is the service being developed?
The database was developed in response to cuts in council funding, and the growing requirement for practitioners to signpost people to services that are an alternative to council-funded support. Having comprehensive information in one easily accessible location has enabled practitioners to help people find the right service without having to spend hours searching.
While there are many online databases available, SEQOL believed it could offer a better source of community-focused support by ensuring that:
- Small community groups are included in the directory
- Information is accurate, relevant and up-to-date
- Listings in the directory are free of charge
- Information about the location of services is provided
- Information can be accessed in a range of ways, including from mobile devices
- Language access is provided.
Were the people who use services and carers and other key stakeholders involved in setting up this service?
People who use services and carers were not included on the design group for setting up the website or collating the directory. However, many design features were based on feedback built up over many years from a number of sites. The database has grown as information is passed on through word of mouth, local press, publications and event, including from people who use services and carers. SEQOL anticipates that this will increasingly be the case.
Has the service met the intended outcomes?
The directory has met the outcome of saving practitioner time, and feedback from the professionals who use it has been very positive. People who would otherwise have been referred to the Adult Community Team for assessment are now able to access services directly.
Many of those who may use the database are envisaged to be family members and carers of people needing support, so may be located widely. Usage of the database (by location, language and device) will be an indicator of effectiveness, and this will be monitored to measure success.
Do you have information on costs or savings?
While there are savings in practitioner time, these do not offset the cost of the site. The cost of the website has been viewed by SEQOL as an investment, giving practitioners easier and faster access to better information and supporting people to find the services they need. DISA has the potential to contribute towards significant savings across the local health and social care economy by fostering prevention and promoting independence.
What were the learning points in setting up this service?
- Involve all colleagues in the information-gathering process
- Keep all information relevant and to the point
- Make one person responsible for updating, so that information is checked and verified before it is published
- Be prepared to spend a lot of time keeping information current, as it goes out of date very quickly
- Develop a culture of listening to front-line staff and fostering innovation, recognising that the best ideas often come from practitioners
- Ensure there is active support for the project at a senior level within the organisation, so that it can develop quickly.
Business Planning & Development Manager, SEQOL
Telephone: 07867 358707