Flexible ‘Helping Hands’ solution created for London Borough of Merton to manage ongoing communication with those socially shielding.

Agilisys, working alongside the London Borough of Merton, has implemented a new cloud-based contact management solution that enables the authority to administer communications with citizens on the UK Government’s vulnerable person list.

Following the design and build of the solution in just one weekend for Merton, ‘Helping Hands’ is now being offered to authorities across the country – and can be implemented in just 24 hours.

Developed in response to the government identifying 1.5 million people who should social shield for 12 weeks, ‘Helping Hands’ is a contact management application designed to track both the outreach contacts an authority has with vulnerable people, and also identify their specific needs to help them through this long-term isolation. This can range from plain contact with someone through to more specific needs like shopping, collecting prescriptions or organising transport to medical appointments.

Helping Hands, which utilises Microsoft Dynamics, Power Portal and Power BI – all in Azure – enables authorities to:

  • Record all relevant data securely
  • Allocate / re-allocate a list of vulnerable people to call
  • Keep a full record of contact history that’s fully searchable and easily accessible
  • View in one dashboard who needs follow up action
  • Monitor and record actions and interventions in the community
  • Reports on progress / left to contact / unable to contact, to ensure full-service coverage

Version 2, which is available now, adds additional features such as the ability to manage referrals, support for Statutory Performance Reporting, as well as the processing, recording and tracking of food deliveries.

The application is available as a fully functioning out of the box solution and can also be tailored to meet individual authority needs. New features are also being added regularly, such as an automated daily checker for vulnerable people by SMS or similar, using robotics, which is due to be added to the product features shortly.

Helping Hands, which was rapidly designed and built over a weekend, provides Merton – and other local authorities who wish to utilise it – the ability to manage the demands of managing their vulnerable persons list today, while also offering the capacity for them to manage future needs and demand.

Phil Howell, Assistant Director for Community and Housing at the London Borough of Merton said: “The Agilisys team worked extremely hard over the weekend, with various meets in between to see how things were progressing, to produce what in my book is a brilliant solution in the space of time that we’ve got. To have something fully functional for what we need to do over the next few weeks is great.

“For now, it’s about having something that says, ‘This is what we’ve done with this person so far’. But we also want to go down the route of being able to allocate tasks quickly to people who’ve got capacity when they’ve got it. We will also go on to think about onward interventions and localism, matching volunteers at the same postcode area, for example. The agile solution, based around Power BI and Dynamics, enables us to do exactly that.”

Tim Pitts, Managing Partner at Agilisys, added: “When designing the solution we didn’t want to just come up with a solution that was suitable for today or tomorrow, but one that provided the tools needed two or three weeks from now when there will be more data and more complexity to contend with.

“Using massively agile technology such as Power BI and Dynamics, allows us to quickly develop powerful new functionality – something that’s crucial given the rapidly unfolding coronavirus outbreak.”

Given the current coronavirus situation, Helping Hands has been made available to all local authorities – and can be rolled out in as little as 24 hours.

“We’re delighted to be sharing Helping Hands at low cost to support the industry through these challenging times,” concluded Tim. “We’ve already been asked to spin up the solution by a large number of authorities and continue to work through the night to deliver it as quickly as possible so that those most in need can be provided with the assistance required.”


Helping Hands - case study