The Assessment and Plan
It’s absolutely true that we put our heart and soul into all the work we produce. We unashamedly love what we do here at OpenBoxDesign. We love it all.
And then there’s something that comes along that you create which you know has a real impact on the lives of others. And it’s very very important.
What is it?
This is the Assessment and Plan. It’s used for any child that comes into contact with Children’s services (including the NHS, Social Work, the Police and Education Services) where that child’s well-being needs to be monitored. This could be down to social issues, trouble with the law, educational or health needs.
Before the Assessment and Plan, each individual service would input their own data in their own files (usually word documents). This wasn’t an effective means as it meant a great deal of extra work and repetition would be involved (not to mention lots of paperwork). The Assessment and Plan ensures there is only one file per child and that everyone’s views and responsibilities are kept in one place.
The Assessment and Plan is the key form of joint communication that professionals involved in safe-guarding that child can create a plan of action to ensure that they are looked after, nurtured and are safe from harm.
For obvious reasons, the example pages here are fictional – as they say in the movies, any link to any person is entirely coincidental.
How does it work?
Technically, it’s a pdf file which has been heavily enhanced. The user creates a new file for each child or young person and the content is added on-line. This is not time limited, so more information can be added whenever necessary. The plan, or course of action/s are dated and reviewed whilst the plan is ongoing.
The Assessment and Plan has been designed to streamline the operation of inputting data – there is no repetition; so if data is to appear in more than one place on the file, the system will do this automatically – a simple example of this is the child’s name; it’s input once into the ‘core data’ section and then is automatically repeated in the header of each and every page.
Visual cues and functions
We have created a series of visual cues through the form to ensure that it is easy to use.
The name and reference numbers
Place the child’s name in the core details field, and it automatically appears throughout the document – likewise with any reference numbers.
Each section has it’s own colour background. This helps as the forms can be large – it gives an immediate sense of location.
Page numbers appear throughout – important if you are referring someone else to the content on a particular page or section.
Drop downs, date fields, checkboxes and radio buttons
All these elements help provide a function that avoids typing in words. So if there are several options then a drop down list is used. If you can select more than one option, checkboxes are used. If a date is required, the user can either type in a date, or select a date from a calendar that appears.
The information boxes, shown in grey, give detailed, and often legal requirements, to the particular section or data field, ensuring content is appropriate.
If it’s a white box, this is where information needs to be added. Conversely, if it’s not a white box, the computer will add it in for you. The fields have been created with a size in mind – however, it may be that more information needs to be added beyond the space provided. No problem – continue to type and the field will automatically grow to accommodate the extra information – and the form itself will grow accordingly.
From Screen to Print
The system has been designed with two states in mind: The screen, for when you are inputting data, and print when you wish to present the Assessment and Plan at meetings.
There is a seamless transition between the two, with no additional requirements of the user other than to press the print button. The file is reformatted so that the colour backgrounds are removed, any landscape pages are turned and all information boxes and sections are removed.
Change and more change
The process to completion has taken time. The system itself has gone through about 16 revisions. This has been because of many reasons: legislation has changed, the requirements of each service have needed to be addressed and new and more efficient ways of producing the data have been implemented along the way. Moreover, it is only when the system is in use that many alterations or new requirements come to light.
It’s been an incredible process – one where we have learnt a great deal and have excelled everyone’s expectations. Including our own.
The Assessment and Plan has been launched and is now in use throughout Aberdeen City. That’s not to say however, that our job is complete. We have structured feedback points every few months so that the system can evolve as new requirements come to light.
Outcomes and feedback
We started off wanting to do the best we could for our client – Aberdeen City’s Integrated Children’s Services. We’ve gone beyond that expectation. Every area in Scotland has a legal requirement to produce their own versions of The Assessment and Plan. We have met with representatives of the Scottish Government and we are seen to be a leader in the field.
It’s hoped that in the near future we will be demonstrating our version of The Assessment and Plan to other councils throughout Scotland. It’s been a job well done.