SICCAR have been selected to run the Open Referrals project on behalf of Catalyst, a charitable initiative to improve the voluntary sector’s digital capabilities.

This project aims to make it easier for public sector organisations, such as the NHS and Councils, to find third sector organisations who can provide relevant services for citizens. This will improve the visibility of third sector services, ultimately making referrals easier and more secure, and thereby improving citizens’ outcomes.  

Cross-sectoral referrals play an essential role in ensuring people’s wellbeing in society. There is an opportunity to replace existing, predominantly ‘phone and paper-based, referral processes with truly digital solutions – and through this increase the uptake of the wide range of ‘social prescribing’ type services available within the third sector. This aim is a more standardised approach to achieve better collaboration and ultimately wider cross-sectoral operational process improvements. 

In the longer-term, we see this improving how:

  1. People are made aware of services that are appropriate to their needs
  2. Referrals are made between public sector and third sector organisations
  3. Citizen data is shared between public and third sector services
  4. Relevant data is captured and monitored during service delivery
  5. Outcomes are measured by funders and Health & Social Care professionals

These benefits must be based on citizen consent to share their data, and the need to protect personally identifiable and sensitive information at all times. While a common occurrence, there is currently no standard, verifiable, way to share such data and record the outcomes and benefits of referrals into and between third sector organisation.

The SICCAR platform has the capability to effectively deliver these benefits.  

The first stage of this project involves enabling third sector organisations to publish their services to a directory in a standard way, so that councils and other third sector organisations can more effectively search for relevant services. The desired short-term outcome being better awareness and utilization of third sector services.

The approach will utilize the UK Open Referral standards. We believe these standards will promote further innovation in the third and public sector, helping create a digital ecosystem for better citizen services.  

Following on from phase one, our longer-term aim is to operationalise the referral process so that sensitive data can be transferred, with the citizen’s permission, to make referrals quicker, easier and more productive.

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