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Cheshire hands IBM £800k to join up health services

Three-year deal

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IBM is to develop a so-called Single Assessment Process (SAP) application for Cheshire's social care and health organisations. The deal, which is worth £793,475, will run for three years and includes application development, hosting and licensing fees.

The system, which IBM will host in Warwick, will roll out to 1,000 health and social care workers in the Cheshire region in January 2006, but will scale up on demand, the company says. IBM will also provide face-to-face training, supported by computer-based training, and a helpdesk facility to support staff using the new system.

Alan Allman, senior IT manager at Cheshire County Council said that the SAP would allow the authority to standardise assessments across Health and Social Care, provide consistency in recording and allow information to be shared across the various Cheshire agencies.

Lack of co-ordination between authorities can mean elderly people are not receiving the most appropriate care.

The needs assessment tool, accredited by the Department of Heath, and developed by health research think tank interRAI, automatically highlights areas of concern, and as a by-product of routine assessments, provides a guide to future resource and service planning.

The Single Assessment Process is part of the government's National Service Framework for older people. Its purpose is to reduce duplicated work across health agencies, and minimise the number of assessment interviews older people need to attend to have their care needs assessed.

Currently, older people receive many requests for information from a range of sources: GPs, social workers, housing services etc. Each agency needs similar information, but for older people with limited mobility or health problems, attending multiple interviews can be difficult.

With the new SAP system in place, health workers in Cheshire will be able to collect information once, and then share it across agencies. ®

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