IDE Group helps Norwood deliver Assistive Technology to children and adults with educational and learning disabilities
Founded within London’s Jewish community in 1795, Norwood is one of the UK’s oldest charities. The organisation seeks to support vulnerable children and their families, children with special educational needs and adults with learning disabilities. The charity works with 56 local authorities and has 55 homes and centres across London and the South East.
Norwood helps people maximise their potential at school, at home and throughout their lives, with personalised services designed to enable choice. An integral part of achieving that goal is the application of Assistive Technology, which allows people to perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to do because of limited movement or communication difficulties.
The charity’s biggest challenge with Assistive Technology is enabling staff to choose and configure equipment to maximise the benefit of its application with users. Norwood had particularly struggled to provide its staff with sufficient access to product support material, assessment forms and relevant update information via its existing intranet, which was proving an inefficient framework. The editorial board found it difficult to upload and order content, and staff struggled to locate and obtain information in a timely manner.
The charity needed a more effective way to curate and share content from the back-end, that also gave staff a simple way to access the information they needed.
After a period of consultation with Norwood’s Assistive Technology Manager, Joanne Surridge, IDE Group recommended Microsoft’s SharePoint as the best framework for administrators. SharePoint would provide the foundation upon which to build a dedicated Assistive Technology portal, designed to fulfil a number of functionalities for administrators and home care staff alike.
In collaboration with the Norwood team, IDE Group worked to streamline information that would be contained within the portal, creating a clearly defined access framework. Material was then filtered and presented across six specified category pages to include:
- An Assistive Technology team support page, providing a dedicated contact area for home care staff.
- A product support page, containing Assistive Technology product guide information, technical support manuals and trouble-shooting guides.
- A staff assessment page, enabling staff to submit both: assessments for new Assistive Technology users; and performance feedback to evaluate the benefits of the technology itself.
- An Assistive Technology news page, providing the latest news updates from across the Norwood network.
- A discussion forum and blog page.
- An out-of-hours enquiry and problem logging area, enabling staff to log requests during out of hour periods; sent to a shared email address for pick-up by support staff.
The Assistive Technology Portal was then made accessible to home care staff through dedicated, installed kiosks that provided direct access into the portal, removing the need for PCs and subsequent intranet login.
IDE Group also developed a single sign-on process which enabled improved use for both back and front-end entry into the portal. For the editorial board this provided quick and efficient upload of resources via the organisation’s intranet, removing the need for editorial staff to sign in multiple times. For home care staff, this meant a quick and efficient kiosk entry process.
In the initial period of roll out, SharePoint technology was installed across 7 kiosks. IDE Group provided dedicated support for the SharePoint solution to the Norwood team, with an allocated staff member working with an assigned contact to ensure a smooth transition and rollout across its care home network.
The solution immediately gave Assistive Technology staff managing the content a more controlled way to publish up-to-date information with dedicated management of the portal. It also gave care home staff simple access to support material when and where they needed it.
Joanne Surridge commented, “Prior to the installation of the SharePoint service, our Assistive Technology support team would often have to email support material to care home staff, as they would struggle to access this themselves via the intranet. It took a lot of work to achieve the level of simplicity that has been achieved with the Assistive Technology Portal on the SharePoint service and IDE Group has been instrumental in ensuring this success.”
While SharePoint immediately provided the charity with a significantly improved system, IDE Group is also taking steps to enable the Assistive Technology portal to be accessed via mobile devices through a dedicated app, with the potential to be implemented as a second phase to the programme.