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Leeds City Council scoops technology Oscar

Socitim's Excellence in IT awards

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Leeds City Council has scooped the tenth annual Socitm Excellence in IT award for a new mobile working initiative for its Social Services and Home Care workers. The digital pen and paper project allows staff to file information about service activity directly from clients' homes, cutting out a huge amount of paperwork and duplication of effort.

Doug Sutherland, Leeds council's head of corporate business relationship management (really, that is his job title), says that the project has improved staff morale as well as efficiency.

He estimates that the council's 1,700 carers look after more than 6,000 clients, and in so doing, used to have to fill in upwards of two million pieces of paper every year. This used to involve a lot of duplication of effort, something he says is "very demoralising" for staff who really want to be out in the field, doing their jobs.

The Digital Pen and Paper Technology Within The Home Care Environment project means staff now use digital pen and paper to record information when visiting clients. The data captured is then sent back to head office via a secure mobile phone link.

"Carers have more time for patients now, more time to work with each other," Sutherland said. "It is also much more efficient for the council."

He explained that the project has not been without its challenges, particularly in relation to the lifecycle of the mobile phones, and the phone company's keenness to follow a regular and (we think) fast upgrade cycle.

Sutherland says his team has made sure the learning process has been well documented, along with the return on investment figures the council has achieved. "The information is there for other councils who want to do this," he says, adding that Leeds city council will support other councils who are interested in implementing a similar project.

Charles Ward, chief operating officer of IT trade association Intellect and chair of the awards judging panel said that the project is "an excellent example of how emerging technologies can be used in a simple way to improve service delivery to citizens, and make life easier for front-line delivery staff".

Lambeth Council and Cumbria County Council were also recognised for their projects. More information on those can be found here. ®

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