Increasing efficiencies in referrals and remote working

Kirsty Richardson, Head of Operations, Tiny LifeTiny Life uses E-CINS to improve the referral process for their support service to parents of premature babies across Northern Ireland

Who is Tiny Life?

TinyLife is Northern Ireland’s premature and vulnerable baby charity helping to provide support services both in the Neonatal Unit and in the community. For more than 30 years they have provided a range of family support services, funded medical research, developed informative publications and influenced thinking around the care of premature babies.

What problem was Tiny Life facing?

With an office based in Belfast and seven family support officers stationed across Northern Ireland the team were finding their referral and admin process difficult to manage.  They were using paper-based forms that needed to be posted to and from families or were emailing Word documents to Health Visitors and hospitals for them to complete and send back via email. It was a clunky and labour-heavy process that often involved filling out information twice and did not offer a timely service to customers who were often in need of urgent assistance.

One of Tiny Life’s services is to offer loans of hospital-grade electric breast-pumps to mothers of premature babies to help them establish their milk supply.  Parents could either apply directly to Tiny Life for the loan or they could be referred by professionals.

Kirsty Richardson, Head of Operations for Tiny Life said “There was a lot of effort involved in ensuring paperwork was correctly collated. Paperwork would arrive in the office in Belfast but because we needed our team member in Londonderry to have the information too we would then need to scan and email it. Everything was being done manually and was being duplicated so we had multiple copies of information in different places.  It was time consuming and inefficient and for the customer the process was not as fast as it should be or easy enough to access.”

How did ECINS help speed up the admin process and improve efficiency?

Two bespoke ECINS digital forms have been created for Tiny Life, one for the breast-pump loan service and the other for a 1:1 Family Support Service, both of which can be accessed via encrypted weblinks in emails or on websites. Tiny Life are now able to supply the weblinks directly to parents and have shared them with their five health and social care trust areas so that professionals and parents can easily access the forms and quickly complete their application forms from wherever they are based, at home in hospital or elsewhere.

Once completed the forms automatically populate the ECINS Referral Management Module so that our Administrator can easily view and organise applications for the Family Support Service and the Breast Pump Coordinator can manage and coordinate the loan process all in one place.

Since the introduction of the encrypted forms Tiny Life are transferring all of their paper-based forms onto the ECINS Referral Management Module so that they can provide longer-term support to families including signposting them for advice and guidance, support groups or for practical help accessing items such as clothes, baby baths and moses baskets.

Kirsty said “Since Covid the team have all been working remotely and we have had to quickly adapt to becoming more digitally active.  All of the team members now have laptops and smart phones so we are able to access ECINS remotely on any of our devices, from anywhere at any time and get the information we need straight away.

ECINS is giving us a clearer point of contact, we can quickly allocate individual Family Support Officers, wherever they are based and there is no need to keep paper documents or transport information.  All of the Family Support Officers and the Breast Pump Coordinator have access to the system and we have one administrator who is the initial point of contact who can view all the information that has been automatically populated and can also put additional referrals into the system.  If a parent wants to apply to our service we can type the information straight into ECINS or we can send them the encrypted link to our forms or advise them to go to the website to complete it themselves.

It is definitely going to save us time and increase efficiency as well as providing a much higher level of data security.  Additionally our service is now far more accessible for our service users and for us we have all our caseloads safely recorded in one place and can allocate Family Support Officers to individual families.”

What other ways does ECINS help to manage referrals?

Kirsty said “We offer quite a range of support services for parents from when their child is born up to the age of 3.  By using ECINS we can manage their support online and we will be able to help support many more families by increasing awareness of our services by advertising our ECINS forms on our website, to our closed Facebook community and through social media such as Instagram and Twitter.  We also plan to send the form links out to Community Midwives which will likely attract more referrals for parents we can support.  The advice and guidance for parents of premature children is very different to the advice and guidance for parents of children who are full-term and so it is important that parents are able to access this information and receive peer-to-peer support and do so in a timely fashion.  With ECINS we are now able to achieve this. The difference it is making to our organisation for efficiency, effectiveness, accessibility and managing our caseloads is enormous; it is transforming the way we can store and manage the families we are supporting.


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