Published on

20 March 2024

Council and partners Joyful at prestigious award nomination

A successful co-production project has been recognised with a nomination for an LGC Digital Impact award

Older couple relaxing on a sofa looking at an iPad

The JOY App, the social prescription software app co-developed by Wokingham Borough Council, IT company Pungo and partners from across the health sector, continues to prove a success after it was shortlisted for the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards.

The LGC Awards are one of the premier awards for local government and celebrate the best of outstanding practice and cutting-edge innovation across the country, as well as working in partnership to achieve great outcomes for their communities. 

And JOY is a great example of this. Shortlisted in the LGC Award’s Digital Impact category, the App has been designed from the ground up to provide an innovative response to an issue which was causing residents stress and putting pressure on local health resources.

An important issue

For many the GP is often the first place that they turn when they face issues within their lives. However, of those visiting the GP, between 20 per cent and 50 per cent have a health and wellbeing challenge that can’t be addressed by their doctor or medicine alone.

Not only is this placing massive pressure on the limited GP resources available it’s also leading to delays in getting people the help they need.

This has a knock-on effect on other services, with those suffering from problems like mobility, loneliness, social isolation and mental health issues more likely to call on statutory services like Adult Social Care, acute hospital and community nursing. 

Recognising this needed to be addressed, the council worked with a range of partners including GPs, Social Prescribers, health and wellbeing providers and service users to better understand the issues.

These included a lack of awareness of the full range of services available in the area, and no easy way for different partners to connect and refer people between services for best effect. 

The solution

Having identified the issue the council and their partners worked with IT start-up Pungo to look at digital solutions to help overcome this challenge. This led to the of an innovative new social prescribing software called JOY.

The initial development involved bringing together six Primary Care Networks, 12 GP surgeries, a community nursing provider, several Council teams and a large and diverse voluntary sector to make sure the solution met the needs of a diverse range of users. 

The JOY App, which was funded through the Digital Cities initiative and Better Care Fund, offers a range of benefits aimed at better connecting residents in need with the best health and wellbeing service to offer them support.

These include the JOY marketplace, where residents and professionals can find local health and wellbeing services which might meet their needs before making referrals; and the JOY case management platform, which allows care providers to bring client information including case notes, referrals and outcome data into a single place so it can be managed more efficiently and appointments can be coordinated.

The software also includes the JOY insight hub, which allows professionals access to a wealth of real-time data which they can use to see how services are performing, the range of services being requested locally and whether there are any gaps in service which need to be addressed. This is helping to continuously understand and improve services, as well as looking at targeting resources more efficiently.

A real success story

Since launching with six voluntary sector services on offer, the JOY app has continue to grow and now offers 131 services from across all sectors, including adult social care, sport and leisure and community nursing. 

The App has also continued to adapt to meet needs, with updates made in response to feedback from GPs and other users, including changes to make the referrals process even quicker by linking into existing clinical software, and prepopulating forms to speed up the process of filling them in.

In the last year the JOY App has supported almost 5,000 people within the borough, leading to a 23 per cent reduction in the number of GP appointments being requested and 88 per cent of patients reporting an increase in their wellbeing after using the App.

Feedback from users includes praise for how easy and intuitive using the App is, how everything is there in one place, and how much more responsive to local need their services can be now they have such detailed data and feedback to use.

Proud to be nominated

Cllr David Hare, executive member for health, wellbeing and adult services, said: “Making sure residents can access the right support services quickly and efficiently is incredibly important. Not only does it make their experience better, but it also reduces pressure on other services like local GPs and adult social care.

“Being able to bring together people with lived experience of the challenges and pressures the current healthcare system faces was a great opportunity. By working with them to come up with solutions and co-develop the JOY App, collectively we’ve been able to create something fantastic which will help improve lives far beyond Wokingham Borough. This nomination is a real testament to the hard work that’s been done and I’m proud to see JOY and those involved nominated for this prestigious award.”

Patrick Harding, Chief Executive Officer, from the Joy Team said:We are very proud to play a part in the ground-breaking work taking place across Wokingham Borough Council. It's a real honour to have been shortlisted for ‘digital impact’ at the LGC awards and just goes to show the fantastic work that teams from across Health and Social Care in Wokingham have been doing to support the needs of the community”.

Next Steps

The council and their partners will meet with an LGC judging panel in April to present their project and talk about the benefits the JOY App has brought to the borough and beyond.

Winners will be announced by the LGC at an event on the 12 June.

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