Partnership project with the Universities of Huddersfield and Leeds
Calderdale Council has trialled a new partnership project with the Universities of Huddersfield and Leeds. It offered a variety of topical research project ideas for final year masters or PhD students, mainly using open data on Calderdale Dataworks.
Reablement in Calderdale is an intense (up to 6 weeks) programme of support, usually delivered at home, which is offered to people with disabilities and those who are frail or recovering from an illness or injury. Where successful, reablement helps people to stay in their own homes and decreases dependence on external support. The students were given access to the SALT (Short and Long Term) statutory returns for Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale for the last 3 years and also interviewed staff and managers from Calderdale’s reablement service, as well as a sample of those receiving the service. The students’ findings highlighted a difference in support provided to carers between boroughs and the number of requests for support received. Recommendations included a review of early intervention and prevention, recruitment and assessment processes.
The Handy Person Service and Accessible Homes Agency work alongside each other providing Minor and Major Adaptations for the public in Calderdale. The Handy Person Service carry out most minor adaptations, for example key safes, shower seats, grab rails, with the Accessible Homes Agency arranging major adaptations which include stair lifts, level access showers, bathroom alterations. The number of adaptations has doubled within a 3 year period and is an increasingly growing area due to the independence agenda. The students used service data on major and minor adaptations for 3 years, which was anonymised to Ward level, with the aim of ‘profiling past demand and scope future demand for Home Adaption Services’. Findings from the students included that recent increases in total adaptations were not caused by population change, with major adaptations being the most in-demand, and a growth in levels of enquiries.
Impact of Children’s Centres
There are 21 Children’s Centre areas in Calderdale providing early years’ education and childcare, health services and family support to just over 5,000 children up to five years old. In light of the on-going budget challenges the Council has had to look at how the service is delivered across the borough and is currently recommissioning Children’s Centre services so the project has been timely.
The project aim was to try and measure the impact of children’s centres interventions on children’s key stage academic achievements. This was done by looking at data from a small cohort of children accessing children’s centre services in 2011 – 2013 with their subsequent Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Phonics and Key Stage 1 results and other relevant national literature and research.
Despite the small sample, there were some really good findings around centre location, age of attendance and how the frequency of activities attended has an impact on results. For example, the more frequently children attended art and creative activities the better they scored at EYFS, likewise the higher frequency in attending physical sessions saw a positive influence on Phonics results. The project touched on demographics and disadvantaged areas but would need a larger sample and a more developed dataset to take this further.
Children Looked After (CLA)
The cost of placements for Children Looked After is increasing. There is a lack of in house foster carers which leads to more expensive, external placements being sought. The students were asked to explore supply and demand of sustainable and affordable placements e.g. Care homes, foster placements and other mainstream provision. They analysed the data and suggested strategies that could offer improvements both locally and nationally. The quality and price of provision were identified as the most important variables to consider. The students were signposted to published data from the SSDA903 Children Looked After Statutory Return which provides numbers and trends of CLA, alongside placement information in addition to numbers of Children in Need, Child Protection cases and the Local Authority Interactive Tool (LAIT) to help build a picture of demand. We shared a recently published document Making Sense – Understanding the drivers of variation in spend on Children’s Services and the students also liaised directly with the Service Lead. They carried out analysis and benchmarked us against other local authorities in our region. The recommendations focused on improving the child’s living conditions (based on a scheme in Bulgaria) and support for the family with parent training programmes. They also considered workforce issues and suggested strengthening volunteer input.
Calderdale Sports Services works across the borough from pools to gyms and multi activity sites existing within a highly competitive marketplace. The service is required to work in commercial environment and increasing demands to meet financial targets to sustain this service.
Calderdale Council also have a vision for Calderdale to be the most Active Borough in the North of England by 2020. In Calderdale, 32% of residents are rarely active. According to the World Health Organisation, physical inactivity has negative implications for people’s physical and emotional health and is a contributory factor to shorter life spans.
The project looked at 2 potential extension projects, to check if they are economically viable and determine the appropriate pay-back period for the capital borrowing. Students analysed demand, catchments areas, local competitors, existing and potential customers and current and peak usage of supports services in order to determine findings and recommendations.
Recommendations established there are benefits of monetary value of return on both investments, suggested a target market and supported a pay-back period within the next 6 years.
Empty Properties have been an ongoing issue in Calderdale and other Authorities for many years, with links to many wider projects such as Council Tax revenue, new homes bonus and other funding from central government to bring property back in to use. Empty properties also have local impact on the neighbourhood, and can have a negative impact.
The student has received a cut of current empty stock, and met with Council Tax and Housing Services. Currently the student is still writing the dissertation.
Claire Broadbent Performance & Business Intelligence Team Leader
“Calderdale Council is becoming more intelligence led, and recognises the power of data in helping to make evidence based decisions. To meet customer needs and expectations, we use data and information to target and improve our services. We thought it would be a great opportunity to link with nearby Universities, to put some of our wicked social issues to the students and see what insight they could gain from the data available. It has been a great collaboration, and one we intend to repeat in future, using lessons learned from this trial.”
Dr Radi Haloub, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader Huddersfield University
“The University of Huddersfield has generated significant and far-reaching impacts as a consequence of validating MSc Courses to include consultancy projects. The delivery of these projects is in partnership with local and national institutions, and they are monitored by academics at our Business School. This year, Calderdale Council gave us an opportunity to conduct projects and implement academic research in some of their topical issues. These projects increased students’ knowledge, and provided them with professional experiences and transferable skills.”