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Adult social care information and advice toolkit: Step 2. Reviewing your current information and advice service

This section includes the Information and Advice Maturity Assessment (IAMA) tool to assess your current information and advice service. There is guidance on how to complete the tool and an explanation of the ten themes that make up the assessment.

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Understanding your information and advice service

We recommend that councils complete the Information and Advice Maturity Assessment (IAMA) tool to assess their current information and advice information and advice service. The outcome of the IAMA can then point to relevant toolkit resources to support improvement activities. When assessing your information and advice maturity, it is important to consider feedback from a range of people within your council, your user communities, and partners too. This will provide you with a good baseline for your information and advice improvement journey.

Information and Advice Maturity Assessment

This maturity assessment has been developed to help councils assess the strengths and weaknesses of their current adult social care (ASC) information and advice service.

The toolkit is split into ten themes and highlights your statutory responsibilities from the Care Act 2014, Equality Act 2010 and other legislation/regulations. Each theme has a set of statements for you to assess using the scale below. There are also optional ‘deep dive’ sections where councils can explore areas like user communities and accessibility in more detail. Altogether, this will provide you with an assessment for each theme and an overall assessment of the service.

  • 1. Poor (significant gaps, concerns and/or risks)
  • 2. Basic (some elements in place but considerable improvement needed)
  • 3. Satisfactory (all basic elements in place but scope for further development)
  • 4. Good (we could share our best practice with other councils)

Making It Real defines “We” statements as: “What people who work in care and support should be doing to make the I statements real”. In the context of the IAMA, “we” refers to the council’s adult social care service as a whole, as the organisation responsible for providing information and advice under the Care Act.

Councils who have helped test the tool have shared that “people found it an incredibly helpful way to breakdown what we do and need to do”. Councils may get more out of this tool if they undertake it as a group exercise or activity, involving colleagues and partners, and recognising that the benefit and value from the tool will correlate with the time invested in using it and considering their local situation.

Who you work with to complete the tool will be specific to your council but you may consider people in the following types of role. Some of these people may only need to contribute to one or two sections of the IAMA.

  • information and advice officers/managers
  • contact centre/front door staff
  • communications leads and web teams
  • connectivity, digital skills and inclusion leads
  • ICT and digital project leads
  • data and performance management leads
  • cyber security leads
  • assurance leads in adult social care
  • adult social care operational leads – principal social workers and occupational therapists 
  • technology enabled care (TEC) leads
  • adult social care commissioners
  • integrated care board colleagues

The views of residents who access care and support, and of partners who provide information and advice, is central to developing a high quality service. However, the IAMA focuses specifically on what councils need to do. The Providing information and advice online, Providing information and advice offline and engaging with external partners themes include further material about user feedback, co-production, and partner engagement.

How we developed the tool

The IAMA tool has been developed through engagement with a range of councils, sector organisations, social care bodies and the information and advice project working group and community of practice. They have helped us to identify ten key themes and then create a range of statements within each theme to help local authorities assess their current maturity for each theme.

The tool has been tested with a range of local authorities to gather feedback and has been through several iterations to incorporate their ideas and recommendations.

The IAMA will help councils to take the time to assess where they are currently on their information and advice journey and how well they are meeting their statutory duties. The toolkit then provides resources to support local authorities to improve the areas that require development.

Guidance on how to complete the tool

Please contact [email protected] to request a link to complete the online tool.

When you provide your email address, Qualtrics will generate a personalised link and email this to you. This will allow you to complete the IAMA at your own pace. If you need to close the tool and come back to it, then you can just click on the link supplied in the email and you will be able to continue where you left off.

The link we send you will be specific to your council based on your email address. PCH will be able to link multiple submissions associated with the same council and provide your organisation with an overall information and advice maturity assessment.

If you have any questions or need support completing the IAMA, please contact [email protected]

The ten themes explained

Making It Real

This theme includes Think Local Act Personal’s Making It Real ‘We’ statements about information and advice. Incorporating these statements at the start of the IAMA reflects the importance of 'Making It Real' at the heart of the CQC assurance process and as a co-produced manifesto for what adult social care ought to be.

Improving your information base

We have defined information base as "The sum total of the information available to members of the public and professionals about care, support and wellbeing – whether it is held online or offline; whether it is structured, unstructured or on the back of an envelope. This includes any information held by individuals and teams who provide information and advice to the public”. This theme covers the statutory duties from the Care Act where all local authorities have a duty to provide information and advice on such topics as safeguarding, financial advocacy, etc.

Directory functionality

We have defined directory as “an online directory of local resources and services relevant to adults who may need care and support and unpaid carers who may need support. This forms part of the information base but is unlikely to be the whole of it”. This theme focuses on the way your directory functions including integrations, how information is updated, and information specifically for professionals.

Knowing your communities

This theme helps you to consider how well you know your communities – not just the people who receive care and support, but the whole of your population – and whether you are providing specific information and advice content for people like unpaid carers, people with disabilities, etc. There is an opportunity to complete an optional ‘deep dive’ where you can explore this topic in more detail.

Providing information and advice online

This theme focuses on the online experience for your users. There is an opportunity to complete an optional ‘deep dive’ where you can explore web accessibility in more detail. The statements also cover user research, carrying out ‘mystery shopper’ exercises and the vocabulary people use when seeking information and advice.

Providing information and advice offline

This theme explores your offline information and advice offer. This includes the different ways you deliver non-digital information and advice services, promote digital inclusion, maintain offline materials and any innovative approaches you have used.

People’s experience of getting information and advice

This theme explores people’s journey through your information and advice service. This includes how you capture people’s needs, provide a person-centred approach, co-production, your approach to onward referrals and signposting, and the importance of information and advice being part of a whole user journey.

Engagement with other council services

This theme helps you to review the engagement you have with other council services and your districts (if applicable). You can assess each service individually and consider how your ASC information base is integrated with other service areas.

Engagement with external partners

This theme helps you to review the engagement you have with external partners, including health and voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) organisations. You can assess the relationship you have with each organisation individually and consider how your ASC information base is integrated with these services. As many councils commission information and advice services, these relationships are critical to having a successful information and advice offer.

Strategic management

This theme focuses on information and advice at a strategic level, including your information and advice strategy, channels used, commissioned services and monitoring processes.