Cheshire East Locality Working Model

Following extensive scoping work for a locality working model for services delivered to children and families, Cheshire East appointed a skilled Change Manager from the LGA Productivity Experts Programme to co-design the model. This case study forms part of our productivity experts resource.

Efficiency and income generation

The input from the Change Manager enabled us to engage with a range of stakeholders to develop the design principles and an initial implementation plan.  This has acted as a catalyst to take this work forward using our existing project management resources. Mark Palethorpe, Acting Executive Director for People said ‘This project has come at an exciting time for Cheshire East.  We are about to embark on a new three year Children’s and Young People’s Plan that puts locality working as one of our joint commitments, an area that we feel, as a partnership, we can make the biggest impact.’  

The challenge

The Council was looking to improve integrated, place based working within Children’s Services in Cheshire East to align with existing ways of working in Adult and Health services. The aim was to improve information sharing, integrate plans, reduce duplication and increase the time spent with children and families across multi-agency settings. Following an initial scoping exercise around this piece of work, it was felt that there needed to be some dedicated focus to develop this into an operational model. The intention was for the Change Manager to pull together a clear plan that had the ‘buy in’ of staff and managers across the Council and partner agencies and that met the needs of children, young people and their families.

The solution

Bringing in an independent Change Manager enabled a number of positive engagement workshops to take place with key stakeholders.   The development of ‘visual minutes’ from these sessions were very effective in engaging with staff to understand their experiences to date and proposals for future ways of working.

The locality model has been discussed in key forums, including the Children and Young Peoples Trust.  Is has been agreed that locality working will underpin the new Children and Young People’s Plan 2019-21, that will be launched in June 2019. 

The Change Manager was able to bring together all their findings into a design model and implementation plan for practical delivery of the locality model that can be delivered within our existing staff resource.  This includes embedding locality working within our commissioning process.

The impact

Bringing in the Change Manager has enabled us to raise the profile and expectations around the development of a locality model.  Through the process, we have developed our vision that builds on what is working well and what needs to change to improve services for our children, young people and their families. The key principles of the vision, which was captured visually were:

  • Locality Working is a journey, which needs to evolve from good practice across the borough.
  • This is not about implementing structural change which forces a shift in behaviours/working practices, but about enabling the multi-agency workforce to collaborate, share knowledge and work together focussing on the families within the communities that they serve.
  • This is about tactical and practical changes to be delivered in the short term which increase professional’s ability to effectively support children and families at home and in school.

Whilst the focus for the model is around improvements in services and multi-agency working, it is expected that the new way of working will reduce duplication and create efficiencies.  We have already restructured to make operational savings of £1.2m across Children’s Services in 2019-20.

How is the new approach being sustained?: This project forms a key strand of the Council’s efficiency and improvement programme. It is also a key priority within the new Children and Young People’s Plan and it proposed that the locality model will be launched at a number of multi-agency staff workshops in June, alongside the new plan.

The implementation plan is being taken forward by an existing Project Manager within the service, working across children’s services, including partner agencies, and reporting to a range of partnerships, including a multi-agency Project Board.

Lessons learned:

  • Through this process, we were able to identify a range of good practice to build on in developing new ways of working. It was identified as a strength that people know their local area and partners well. However, it was a lack of consistency and the feeling of ‘starting again’ when individuals move on which can be frustrating for colleagues and families. There are also instances where some key roles, such as school family support, currently work in isolation.
  • We believe that embedding locality working in the new Children and Young People’s Plan will ensure wider engagement and accountability to deliver the necessary changes.
  • We found that visual minutes are an effective way of communicating key messages and that ‘branding’ changes from an early stage are important to get buy in across the partnership.
  • It is important that any changes are aligned to our existing change programmes, i.e, implementation of Signs of Safety and development of our Family Focus (Troubled Families) Programme.
  • It is important to involve families and make sure they know the branding and who their ‘go to’ practitioners are.
  • It will be important to build localities into our commissioning arrangements.