At Hull Services, we pride ourselves on being at the cutting-edge of clinical intervention. We rigorously invest in training and development for our team to ensure we are following best practices and the latest research to support the vulnerable children, youth and families we support. Yet, a lack of investment in IT infrastructure has meant in a world of advanced cloud-based technology, we have had to continue to document this very important work using paper notebooks and pens for many of our programs.
To be clear, our detailed clinical record keeping was never compromised. It was completed with painstaking attention to detail, but it took a significant amount of time and other resources. While we could not justify diverting funds from our programming, generous support from Hull’s Child and Family Foundation and various donors, has made it possible to swap those notebooks for laptops, and invest in up-to-date technology, important security trainings and other essential IT upgrades.
Having this new technology means less drain on staff exchanging important information between shift changes. And moving forward, if there is need to search this historical information, it will be much more efficient to do so digitally rather than combing through the pages of paper notebooks. It also has freed up valuable physical space on campus because we are mandated to keep information on those we support for 13 years, or in some cases perpetuity.
“Being able to provide staff these laptops is a big weight off our shoulders. Our staff are here because they are committed to this important work, and to the kids and families we serve,” says Kevin Foran, Hull’s Senior Director, Community Service. “We want to give them as much as we can to do their jobs efficiently and effectively, so we can serve everyone that needs our support.”
While some of our programs had computers, they were shared, which often meant staff were waiting a significant amount of time for access. The ability to purchase additional IT equipment for programs has increased efficiency and provided better access and more flexibility for those we support.
COVID shone a light on the importance of this need for flexibility and access to technology, but it wasn’t exclusive to lock down. Staff can work from home now, allowing families to meet when it best suits them, such as in the evenings after school or work. Hull also applied for grants and purchased electronic tablets for many of the families we support that did not have computer access. Initially this was for children and youth to use for virtual schooling, but parents soon began using them to connect with us, removing barriers such as lack of childcare or transportation.
“This is particularly important in our group work,” explains Foran. “The feedback from families is so positive. Now that they can participate from home, they are participating in our programming and groups much longer. It’s also giving kids without prior access to computers a leg up to where most other kids are.”
This hardware, along with an investment in updated IT systems, platforms and software, as well as cyber security training for staff, better protects the private information of those we support. It also allows for enhanced gathering of data to demonstrate outcomes and ensure the work we are doing is supported through evidence.