Persons At Risk Database (PARD)

An emergency event in a neighbouring authority highlighted how hard it was to identify vulnerable persons during a confirmed gas leak, Falkirk Council resolved to find a faster, more accurate and secure method for quickly identifying those in need during any type of emergency incident where local residents might be in danger. Data was cleansed and uploaded to an electronic mapping system which allows us to identify vulnerable persons in a few simple clicks and has been hailed as quantum leap.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

A project team was set up in August 2012 to address the problem of identifying the most vulnerable individuals within our communities for the planning and response of emergencies or disruptive events. The aim was to establish a process to quickly acquire, match and process data relating to vulnerable individuals from across a range of local authority and National Health Service (NHS) services to enable appropriate care and support responses to be put in place. Regardless of the number of hurdles faced in terms of data protection and the security of personal information, the team have overcome these and Falkirk Council are now in an enviable position in Scotland to identify vulnerable individuals ahead of any incident our community may face. The methodology to identify the most vulnerable ahead of any incidents has now been presented at a local and national level and recognised as an example of good practice across Scotland by fellow local authorities, the Emergency Services and Scottish Government.

When an incident occurred in the Falkirk Council area, a paper list of potentially vulnerable individuals was made available by Social Work making it difficult to determine who may need priority assistance at the time of an incident. Sharing personal data legally in advance of an incident was also a barrier, however close working with NHS and colleagues from our Legal Dept we can now share both NHS and Social Work data. This resulted in the creation of a Persons At Risk Database (PARD) allowing for near instant identification of vulnerable individuals displayed via electronic mapping. This is in stark contrast to the endless lists of paper previously relied on previously. The Database is a quantum leap in terms of a robust and manageable mechanism to identify our residents who may require immediate assistance in response to an incident.

The data now resides in a Geographic Information System (GIS) that is reliable, regularly updated, secure, user friendly and available for use 24/7. This was set up on virtual server with ICT given a security brief to ensure the correct protocols were used to securely store personal data. We chose anOpen Source GIS to ensure costs have been kept to a minimum.

In response to an incident, Social Work provided information to Emergency Planning using manually produced paper lists derived from the Social Work Information System (SWIS). This proved to be a lengthy and inefficient manual process. having the data held in GIS means we now have access to pre-identified shared information that can be accessed quickly, effectively and electronically in the event of an incident. This enables responders to view information on a digital map enabling a fast and effective provision of appropriate practical and relevant assistance to those individuals who might be affected. Having this information digitally allows for further interrogation to highlight, for example, individuals living alone or suffering from physical or mental disabilities. We now have the means to pro-actively test various scenarios using this technology to identify vulnerable individuals and, at the same time, identify areas, roads, homes and schools etc prone to flooding where individuals may become vulnerable. This has recently been described by the NHS as a ‘game changer’.

Emergency Planning can now pro-actively plan for the impact of an incident in terms of vulnerable individuals and test various scenarios. We are now more confident to reach those in need and quantify who may be affected in our communities in advance of any incident. The close working relationship we have with partner agencies such as NHS, Police Scotland, Scottish Ambulance, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and others within our Resilience Partnership allows us to come together in a multi-agency environment to ratify the information we have and identify any additional vulnerable individuals at the same time as allowing Social Work, NHS and the Voluntary Organisation attend to the already known vulnerable individuals.

The Vulnerable Individual Database has now been endorsed by the Forth Valley NHS Medical Director and the Director of Development Services for Falkirk Council. The project is being held up as good practice for other councils and Health Boards with a formal invitations from other partnerships to make presentations outlining the technical, legal and practical steps taken to achieve this complex process and offer the same level of success Scotland wide.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

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  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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