Exploring how local councils are under pressure to provide out of hours services for emergency accommodation
Solving the need for out of hours care
For many local authorities, providing support for the public in an emergency can be challenging. Fire, floods or even ‘acts of god’ can force residents from their homes and leave them needing temporary accommodation. Not only is high quality, reliable support needed but access is required 24/7 to ensure no one is left without help in the middle of the night or over the weekend. Demand for emergency can’t be predicted but having the right processes in place ensures that the services are ready to respond.
Capita’s ‘out of hours' service helps councils cope with the increasing demands for a more responsive service. Available 24 hours a day, it takes the hassle away from councils by answering calls during the evenings, weekends and public holidays. The customer service agents are fully trained to determine the nature of the call and access the tailored management system to respond. They are given a script that has been developed through years of working with local authorities so they can be both accurate and effective.
In the event that emergency accommodation is needed, the agent can access hotels or other accommodation due to existing relationships with the suppliers. Without these existing relationships, councils can be forced to house residents overnight in church halls or community centres. Without access to proper facilities, this can lead to more problems including possible human rights issues. By working with Capita, they can benefit from the existing relationships with hotel chains and accommodation providers to ensure it’s quick and easy and they can focus on other areas.
Proper communication between the out of hour’s agents and 9-5 council workers is of utmost importance. Handovers from the ‘in hours’ team are loaded onto the system at 9am every day. This enables the correct department to quickly pick up the cases and provide more long-term emergency accommodation for those that need it.
Reducing the pressure on councils
In a time of budget cuts, providing reliable care for local residents can be a huge strain. However, Capita’s system provides cost saving opportunities without having to compromise on service delivery standards. They are based on a per calls basis, meaning that in times of low demand the councils aren’t forced to pay out. Plus, councils are able to tailor the costs based on how quickly they want calls answered.
Although cases for emergency care may involve one individual such as a victim fleeing violence, when it comes to fires or flooding emergency housing may be needed for an entire block of flats or neighbourhood. Although this can be overwhelming for councils, Capita’s team are easily able to handle the high volume of calls efficiently to ensure large groups of people aren’t left homeless overnight.
Working with Rossendale Borough Council
Capita recently worked with Rossendale Borough Council to provide around the clock customer service support for local citizens. The partnership has been a huge success and helped the council continue to offer an outstanding service.
Andrew Buckle, head of ICT and customer services at Rossendale Borough Council said:
"By partnering with Capita to deliver the out of hours customer service support for emergency planning and homelessness in Rossendale, it has allowed the council to continue to provide reliable, accurate and high standards of service to the public during times of budget constraints. This is a very difficult service and Capita continue to perform brilliantly.”
Whilst councils can’t predict many of the situations that will arise, being prepared is key. Capita’s experienced team have developed and refined the out of hours system over a number of years through working with local authorities. They can be assured that their needs will be met, and an efficient service is provided for local residents. A partnership with councils streamlines processes, relieves pressure on councils and provides more value for local taxpayers.
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