What was the issue you were addressing or working on?
Waiting times for Occupational Therapy (OT) assessment were increasing and consultation with OT staff across Angus identified that they were spending a significant amount of their time in the office dealing with general OT enquiries, taking and prioritising referrals and dealing with service user complaints about delays. This prevented staff from seeing service users and arranging essential equipment and adaptations. The process for dealing with some minor adaptations had also been identified as cumbersome and time consuming for staff and resulted in delays in the adaptation being put in place.
What you did?
Employed additional OT staff and immediately increased capacity in the service and allowed changes to how the service was operating. We tested whether centralisation of enquiries and providing a rapid response to urgent referrals would increase efficiency and reduce waiting times. A further test of change was progressed with colleagues in the Property section of Angus Council who already had contracts in place with local tradesmen and it was agreed that OT could access these. This helped to reduce the time spent by OT staff in arranging for work to be carried out.
What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?
Customer satisfaction has improved with the most recent survey finding 98% of service users indicating that their referral was responded to within a reasonable timescale. These changes have had an impact on staff morale. Where before OTs had felt overwhelmed and unable to address waiting time issues, they now feel more in control and able to take ownership of the service in their locality. Following these tests of change it has been agreed that OT and OT assistant posts will become a substantive part of First Contact.
The centralising of the enquiries and referral point within community care First Contact service has been particularly successful in releasing OT staff time in locality teams to carry out assessment and arrange provision. While the level of demand has not decreased the service is able to respond more quickly.