Plymouth Online Directory helps ease the pressure on critical services with a new website platform
Migrating its website to the GOSS Digital Platform has enabled Plymouth Online Directory to ease the pressure on health, social, and wellbeing programmes.
Introduced in 2010 as part of Plymouth City Council's early intervention and prevention agenda, Plymouth Online Directory now serves a population of more than 264,000 people. Designed to give residents access to essential information, the online platform helps users make more informed choices and improve their quality of life.
The Challenge: An inflexible and aging platform that wasn't fit for purpose
Part of Plymouth City Council's health, social, and wellbeing service, Plymouth Online Directory was established to provide a network of integrated resources for residents. After nearly a decade of directing Plymouth residents to vital health and wellbeing services, the contract with the website's platform supplier was due to expire.
While the old platform served Plymouth Online Directory's needs in 2010, it lacked the technology flexibility the directory needed going forward.
The Council needed a solution that could help residents get 24/7/365 access to health and wellbeing information, and provide advice to help people retain their independence. The new platform also had to offer extensive reporting abilities to ensure the directory could tailor its services appropriately, and identify and meet residents' needs in the future.
In addition, the solution would need to help the directory build on its well-established reputation and enable external providers to more easily contribute information to the website.
The Solution: A flexible, highly customisable website platform
The team at Plymouth Online Directory assessed a wide range of vendors during the tender process. Following a consultation period where specifications were matched to capabilities, the team saw GOSS as the most appropriate provider.
Kate Jones, Project Manager - Strategic Commissioning, Plymouth City Council explains: "We had so many technical requirements and security protocols that the new platform had to conform with. GOSS not only ticked these boxes, but the fact it's a local supplier and went to great lengths to be transparent with costs was a huge advantage for us."
Plymouth Online Directory wanted a platform that was easy to manage and update; and that would help the directory add more features down the line - enabling it to keep pace with the constantly changing state of health and social care in the city.
"After we chose the GOSS Digital Platform, we had to migrate from the old system in a very tight timeframe", says David Hodder, Commissioning (Digital), Plymouth City Council. "GOSS couldn't have been more understanding, and its excellent project team did everything in their power to help us switch before the deadline."
The Results: An improved service that meets the needs of Plymouth residents
One of the directory's most important features is its self-assessment portal - a tool that takes residents through a series of questions to evaluate whether they may have eligible needs under the Care Act 2014.
The portal provides residents with directory information based on their responses. It can also indicate whether individuals are eligible for additional care and provides the option to submit an Adult Social Care application.
The directory's self-assessment portal helps to ensure that residents remain independent for as long as possible. With the new reporting capability, Plymouth City Council can now track the journey from initial self-assessment submission through to its outcome, whatever that might be.
"Getting the self-assessment portal live is a massive step for us," says David Hodder. "Not only does it help empower residents to make more informed health and wellbeing decisions, but it also significantly reduces the pressure on our contact centre and support workers - enabling us to focus on more complex issues."
In addition, the new platform enhances the service's special educational needs and disability (SEND) offering. And with its enhanced reporting functionality, Plymouth Online Directory now has access to unique data that will help it better identify children's needs and improve outcomes.
Kate Jones explains that the feel of the website and its searchability is far superior to the old one: "We now have access to detailed insights on how our residents use our website - including each service. It means we can see which are our most popular services and at what times. It's completely transformed how we tailor services to our customers' needs."
Throughout the project and following the new website going live, Plymouth Online Directory and GOSS have established an excellent working relationship. "GOSS has done everything in its power to live up to the company's great reputation," says Kate Jones. "The GOSS Digital Platform enables people to remain independent for as long as possible. It not only gives residents the power to make more informed health decisions, but it also enables the Council to increase its efficiency - it's a win-win for everyone."
GOSS has done everything in its power to live up to the company's great reputation. The GOSS Digital Platform enables people to remain independent for as long as possible. It not only gives residents the power to make more informed health decisions, but it also enables the Council to increase its efficiency - it's a win-win for everyone."
Kate Jones, Project Manager - Strategic Commissioning, Plymouth City Council