Contacting for Support: Remodelling the front door

The Context

When people need support, the first time they contact social services is really important. When it goes well, it can be the first step to getting the support they need. It can also leave people feeling confused and frustrated. 

There are different terms used for these services across the four UK nations (e.g. ‘gateway’ or ‘single point of access’)- we mean the service where people first ask for information and access social (care) services.

A term used in some places around the UK is ‘Front Door’ Services, and some local authorities or councils have dedicated teams and services to ensure their ‘Front Doors’ into adult social care are welcoming and easy to use. As in any home, the ‘front door’ to adult social care services plays the important role of making the first impression and making people feel welcome when in need of help. The ‘front door’ is also the place where potential problems and needs are assessed in order to refer the person to services that can address those needs. 

There are however barriers people experience when trying to access the support they need to live good lives, and examples from across the UK where new ways of working have been used. IMPACT Networks are bringing together groups of people across the UK to explore and share evidence about the challenges and what might help people to find support.

IMPACT Network

Networks are meeting across the UK, coordinated by 

Evidence Review

Before the first Network meeting, IMPACT carried out an evidence review of research, lived experience and practice knowledge and found:

  • Language used to describe the services that support people when they first contact social services vary- sometimes they are called ‘front doors’, ‘gateways’ or ‘single points of access’)- we mean the service where people first ask for information and access social (care) services. 
  • These services are really important- they make people feel welcome, identify issues and sometimes assess people’s needs. 
  • There are still challenges people face in accessing to adult social care services – there are sometimes delays leading to unmet need and inequalities
  • three examples of different ways of working across the UK. 

This evidence review was used as ‘discussion material’ in the Networks, designed to spark conversation and ideas. It’s a helpful way to surface more evidence, with people in the Networks sharing their own practice knowledge and lived experience.