Have you ever wondered what happen’s when the lean thinking system approach is used within social care? Okay perhaps I need to take a step back, In order for Local Authority’s to save the amount of money needed to absorb the funding cuts. The lean thinking approach has been used in order to improve the business process. When you look at the theory, this is a tried and tested method of achieving success in the car manufacturing business. But what happens when it is applied to social care.
Absolutely nothing! with the addition of electronic files it can take 10 hours to scan a document into the system. Time saved none. Fancy photocopier’s that can do multiple jobs; time saved none due to them breaking down all of the time. ICS systems used to manage payments; time saved none because address could be wrong, not registered or because they are not on there due to adoption. Its not until you look closer that all of these have been tried or attempted to improve the current system in order to make positions redundant. Instead it has had the reverse effect of creating more work, more pressure and more stress on individual workers.
I struggle to imagine the cost this has had on the Local Authority, and still struggle with how this can be made when other services are being closed down, or having to tighten their thresholds in order to maintain working with young people. When their are more young people than placements, and because of this less willingness to support vulnerable young people with more expectations on the Local Authority to pay for services that were once covered by ring fenced budgets for charities and voluntary services.
When I was being shown how to use the new printer (time I did not have) it was explained that the director would be able to see how much I was using the printer. “You will have to explain why you used so much paper!” I am not sure as to whether I should have been intimidated by this or not? but being defiant challenged the decision making process for purchasing the new printers and if the director wanted to see me I would be happy to do so.
In reality you can not reduce the time it takes to make a fair assessment. In reality you can not reduce the time to reflect on this information. You can also not reduce the time it takes to make a fair and just plan, especially as the services change frequently and the eligibility changes more frequently. You also need time for the plan to take place and take effect so as to evaluate how it is going, and then for the plan to be reviewed if necessary.
With the increasing number of families that we are working with and the reduced number of social workers. This process is being tested, instead of being able to rely on business support for support social workers are now having to balance their time equally between direct work and paper work, where as it should be more time spent directly working with young people.
Can we really save money through changing business system’s when positive outcomes are being challenged for children and young people?