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Smart Interventions for Local VulnerablE Residents (SILVER)

The team created tailor-made, multi-partner data sharing agreements that met the needs of all stakeholders across healthcare, social care, criminal justice, housing and education. This ground breaking approach enables holistic, joined up support for vulnerable families.  

The SILVER programme linked data from multiple agencies including healthcare, social care, criminal justice, housing and education. It explored issues around gaining consent and how agencies can develop sustainable interventions. By creating a secure corridor for data from different agencies to flow through via one platform, this provided social workers with the latest up to date information on their service users. Despite the additional complexities of the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the SILVER team delivered a ground breaking approach enabling holistic, joined up support for vulnerable families.

Based on initial findings, a data sharing system was developed that would allow early care practitioners access to family members’ medical records via the Medical Interoperability Gateway (MIG), a system already used to share GP records in emergency and out of hours settings. A consent portal was designed to ensure that data sharing operated within the relevant legal frameworks and that families knew what they are agreeing to before access was enabled. Practitioner requirements were taken into consideration so that information would be relevant, readable and filterable.

To meet information governance requirements, SILVER produced a detailed care record agreement outlining which data would be provided, to be agreed by the GP practice and local authority, as well as a data sharing agreement outlining the purpose for which the local authority would use the data. The project was also required to demonstrate compliance with Clinical Risk Management standards DCB0129 and DCB0160 prior to the authorisation of data sharing agreements. These requirements were met alongside gaining consensus amongst specialists on the appropriate legal basis for information sharing in this setting, given that early help provision sits outside of statutory social care intervention.

Why this is important

  • An estimated 400,000 families in England and Wales have multiple and complex needs, including mental and physical health problems, involvement in criminal and anti-social behaviour, truancy, unemployment and domestic abuse.

  • These families often receive care from multiple agencies such as healthcare professionals, social services and the criminal justice system.

  • The national framework for responding to the needs of vulnerable families, referred to as the Troubled Families Programme, aims to identify and provide effective early help by way of joined up local support.

  • Evaluation of the programme, however, has shown that the failure to share information between agencies is a significant barrier to providing better services.

How SILVER was delivered

Newcastle University brought together leads from five regional local authorities, academics/researchers, IT specialists, local families and other key stakeholders to explore how health and social care data can be shared, with the aim of improving care for vulnerable families by establishing an appropriate data sharing system: the SILVER clinical pathway.

Phase 1. Semi structured interviews, focus groups and surveys were completed on the barriers and facilitators to information sharing between professional organisations. This involved parents in receipt of local authority early help support and close family members providing direct care to children, young people (aged 14-17) and practitioners from local authorities (e.g. education, health visitors, housing).

Phase 2. Three co-design workshops were held with parents, children and practitioners using activities such as card-sorting, storyboarding and scenario discussion to inform the development of the SILVER user interface. In addition, surveys with early help practitioners identified the information type of greatest priority to them.

Phase 3. The SILVER data sharing system was demonstrated to early help practitioners from Gateshead Council and Newcastle Council using test data and views on user interface, functionality and usefulness were gathered.


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