SMaRT service: Technology leading the way at NCHA

Following on from my blog last week, talking about innovation and transformation of services going forward, I wanted to share with you a successful example of this, that maintains quality whilst being cost-effective.

Recently, I visited one of our members, Nottingham Community Housing Association, and we were talking about the ‘usual’ challenges of funding, sleep ins and service development and during the chat I was introduced to their SMaRT service. I asked if they would be kind enough to write a piece for us to share with our Real People readers.

Sarah Wiest, SMaRT Manager, NCHA, shared her thoughts on the SMaRT service she manages, which as you will read, has helped them to remove the majority of sleep-ins for their supported houses.

Nottingham Community’s Support Management and Response Team.

Our Nottingham based Support Management and Response Team (SMaRT) has supported staff and service users 24/7 across the East Midlands for 15 years. In 2002 NCHA successfully removed the majority of sleep-in from our supported housing services. Our SMaRT team maintain these services by making use of assistive technology, and safe and well responses overnight. Our organisation has responded to government agendas around the loss of supporting people funding, and looked to diversifying our services and how we support our customers. This has also included responding to the Care Act to offer preventative services to delay/reduce the need for statutory care services.  

Outside of NCHA, we support a diverse range of customers from 16-100 years of age too. Including: mental health, learning disability, young homeless, and womens services. We provide a whole array of services, over 24/7. And we provide an out of hours monitoring for our community-based services across Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire.

The SMaRT service allows us to respond to customers and staff, to assist with critical incidents/emergencies or serious incidents over night, or when usual staff is not available.

We are the first point of call for our customers when staff is not on duty, to provide emotional support and reassurance in times of crisis. We support customers via a wide range of assistive technology products, including our hard-wired connections across NCHA’s support housing schemes. These can include devices to promote independent living, sensors to monitor health and safety, or equipment to assist with isolation.

Other elements of this service allows us to conduct safe and well being checks and prompts, with medication reminders at various times of day, and this frees up support staff for other duties. Talking of safety, we also monitor lone working staff, using various monitoring solutions (including GPS equipment). 

We are also there to offer ‘out of hours’ guidance and a means of reporting safeguarding concerns. In addition, we also offer ‘out of hours’ sickness and absence reporting and a maintenance reporting line – we will log the jobs and liaise with contractors to ensure emergency repairs are actioned as soon as possible.  

We will follow up on missed visits, assist with medication queries, assist with contingency planning, arrange cover with staff sickness, and monitor live visits on our monitoring systems.

The service also allows us to monitor antisocial behaviour, this includes monitoring of CCTV across many services too, which is invaluable.

Christmastime, of course, is well out of our minds but it is a great time to reflect on in terms of the how the SMaRT service works so well in practice. Over the Christmas period, naturally as some other services wind down, SMaRT opens up our telephones to provide vital support to ensure all our customers are supported in each area of provision. A few calls we responded to last Christmas included:

Taking a call from one of our external learning disability services; his support worker had given him our number. This gentleman said he was choosing to spend Christmas on his own despite protests from his family. He appreciated the support from SMaRT and said it was good to know we are there to support him when he needed to talk.

A missing tenant from one of our mental health projects saw SMaRT liaising with project staff, police and duty manager. The person was involved in an incident the previous day and had gone missing. They were located, their mental health had deteriorated and crisis team made aware to support them.

We had call from a customer at our older person services, who had fallen and was in distress, due to the a very long delay with the ambulance response times, SMaRT responded and made the lady comfortable and kept her warm until the ambulance arrived. The lady was taken to hospital with a suspected broken bone. She had a pet at home that would have been left without care, so SMaRT ensured it left food out until the warden arrived. 

SMaRT took a call from our young person in our womens services; this came from a communal lifeline. The service user was concerned about another service user’s safety. The police were called as it was believed, from viewing CCTV, to be an intruder who had an injunction against them. SMaRT liaised with police, who attended and removed two males from the project. SMaRT monitored CCTV until staff was back in project later that morning.

In total, over the 3 days holiday period SMaRT took over 1800 calls. These calls included, staff sickness, general wellbeing calls, supporting people in crisis, supporting project staff, providing responses for face to face support, antisocial behaviour along with many more reasons. All these calls took careful coordination by our team and it really made a difference to the people we support.

To learn more about the SMaRT Service and how it could work for your organisation please contact the ARC Team (contact.us@arcuk.org.uk) and we will happily put you in touch with Sarah.