How Adapta carried out a comprehensive IT review to help WSBH through a period of major change.
Woking and Sam Beare Hospices (WSBH) provide palliative and end of life care for local people in the North West Surrey area. The hospices together employ approximately 250 staff, but there are also a large number of volunteers (800+) who assist with the work of the hospices in a variety of roles, some of which require access to ICT systems. In addition to the hospice sites (which incorporate the administrative office), WSBH also has a warehouse based in Knaphill and approximately 17 shops situated throughout Surrey.
At the time WSBH approached Adapta, they were about to embark on a period of major change. In particular, they were planning for relocation to a new single hospice site together with other associated developments such as potentially significant developments in their marketing and communications strategy. They were receiving IT support from two separate outsourced IT service providers, one assisting with management and support of clinical systems and network, and the other supporting the administrative systems and network.
They knew there were opportunities to use their IT systems more effectively and they wanted to obtain independent, impartial advice to help them plan what they should do next. As the organisation works very closely with parts of the NHS, there were some particularly demanding IT requirements – for example, needing to provide staff with access to the NHS secure network for the purposes of sharing patient information, but also needing to provide all staff with access to WSBH systems such as email and the hospices’ own files, folders and applications. This was a particularly challenging issue that needed to be considered in the IT planning, because there would effectively be two networks that also had to deal with NHS restrictions and protocols that were not easily compatible.
In addition, the current support services contracts were coming to an end, and the hospices were unsure of what resources they currently had, due partly (at the time) to not having in-house IT expertise.
We started by gathering the information we needed mostly through interviewing staff from the administrative and clinical sides, and we gathered and reviewed comprehensively other background information so we knew as much as possible about the organisation, its requirements and the current provision. This stage of our work focused not just on identifying the current issues, but also very much on future needs and requirements and how those would be best supported.
Change and new developments were happening throughout the period of the review, so we also played a key role in the IT steering group meetings. As the project developed we presented back to the steering group findings and conclusions and then later developed a set of recommendations in a manageable road-map format that included quick wins as well as long-term solutions. We explained how they would support overall organisational objectives, what likely time frames would be, cost and resource requirements, the advantages, potential downsides and risks and enabled them to make fully informed decisions. Despite the challenges presented by the requirements to tie in the secure NHS access with the hospices’ own systems, Adapta identified a number of viable options to help them work out the best solution. We were mindful to ensure also that the hospices would be properly resourced to carry forward the recommendations and to have a level of in-house IT expertise that would provide sustainable advantage in the longer-term.
As a result, the hospices were able to recruit in a short space of time a highly-experienced and knowledgeable in-house IT manager and had selected an IT support partner that could provide in‑depth technical support and also help with specific projects such as the preparatory work for moving to a new integrated IT infrastructure at their new premises.