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Social Care Innovation - Personalisation in the digital age

27 October 2016

Up and down the country Local Authorities are still dealing with unprecedented challenges in the market; huge financial pressures, an ageing population who require more care and law changes in light of the Care Act (2014). In the midst of these, the sector seeks high levels of innovation and leadership.

And that is exactly what I found at Harrow Council.

I recently met with Bernie Flaherty, Director of Adult Social Services, who passionately talked me through the Council’s vision is to deliver an innovative digital platform that will offer choice, promote independence, and a healthy lifestyle to service users.

In order to achieve this, and given their savings targets, a new way of thinking is needed to continue delivering a safe service albeit in a completely new and more efficient model.


My Community ePurse (MCeP) is Harrow Council’s digital platform for Personalisation developed in collaboration with people that use services, Carers and various Community Groups and the Voluntary Sector. The system helps eligible service users to develop their own outcomes-based support plan using the benefits of an electronic social care marketplace, dynamic purchasing tool, and an electronic purse currently delivered through PayPal.

Although MCeP was originally developed to provide a “personalisation” solution for the eligible service users and Carers in Harrow, it has become evident that it also offers a commercial opportunity to the Council and its residents.

To achieve what is required, it was necessary for the Council to collaborate with a company that has the appropriate technical software skills to place MCeP on a scalable platform and to assist them to maximise the monetisation of the product to generate as much revenue as possible as these skills are not available internally.

Partnership working - IBM Watson Health

It has officially been announced that Harrow Council have teamed up with IBM Watson Health, the American company’s artificial intelligence specialist health & social care division, to deliver a unique ‘first of its kind’ social care management system that will use cognitive technologies to help people with personalised social care needs choose the best services.

Personally I think that IBM make the ideal partner for Harrow as they will look to ‘disrupt the market’, develop cutting edge technology solutions, offer scalability and sustainability, and also share the same vision and principles as they do through their health and social care division.

With such an ageing population, social care costs are set to increase over the next few years so the plan was devised to cut red tape surrounding the acquisition of social care for individuals, reduce time spent by social care managers doing administrative work, and save the council money, all while providing easier access and greater choice to service users. In addition to this, access to CQC reports on the care providers is also supplied through the programme, allowing customers to choose care based on quality as well as location and price.

This is a great show of innovation, leadership and modernisation from Harrow and we look forward to seeing this new partnership flourish. 

Lenny Michael, Consultant

Lenny Michael is a Consultant in the Government Practice, read Lenny's profile.


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