Age UK Mid Mersey is an independent, registered charity working with and on behalf of older people in Halton, Knowsley, St Helens, and Warrington. We provide older people with a range of health, wellbeing and care services, giving them more choice, independence and control in their everyday lives.
With a particular focus on tackling loneliness and isolation, we support older people to continue living fulfilling lives in their own homes by maximising wellbeing, maintaining independence, reducing adverse effects of social isolation and impacts of ageing.
We achieve this by working in partnership with key stakeholders. We generate income to fund our work through commissioned contracts, fundraising, grants and donations.”Shelley Brown, Age UK Mid Mersey CEO
The staff and volunteers are committed to making life fulfilling and enjoyable for everyone they work with.
Age UK Mid Mersey were looking to make their staff’s working environment more efficient as they work across four different locations and often travel between these offices. They required flexibility to be able to work easily and securely between sites.
Age UK wanted to provide their staff with the ability to work remotely and be able to access their business-critical applications.
“We often have staff that can be working in Halton one day and then the next day in Warrington, we were looking for a solution that offered flexibility, where staff could work from anywhere, whilst having the same access as if they were logging in from the office.”Shelley Brown, Age UK Mid Mersey CEO
Another challenge Age UK Mid Mersey faced was they had outgrown their incumbent IT provider as the needs of the charity evolved.
“We recognised that as the services Age UK offer had developed, so had the demand and reliance on our IT systems, our pc’s and IT assets were coming up to end of life. We required a provider that we could be confident that had both the resource and expertise to support are future needs”.Shelley Brown, Age UK Mid Mersey CEO
After initial consultations, Smart IT proposed a solution which addressed all the challenges and requirements of Age UK Mid Mersey. It was decided that implementing a hosted desktop solution would offer the flexibly they required to allow users to work between the different sites.
A hosted solution offers the exact same user experience as logging in to a regular desktop, however the information and data is stored in the cloud benefiting from the added security. The advantage of this solution is all staff have the same working environment and can work from anywhere as long as they have access to the internet.
“As Age UK are a charity, cost was a big consideration for this project, we wanted to ensure their budget went as far as possible. In order to do so we repurposed the older pc’s to act as dumb terminals. With a hosted model the processing power needed to run the hosted desktop sessions comes from the data centres rather than the device which enabled Age UK Mid Mersey to get more use out of their aging hardware.”Shaun Simpson, Technical Director, Smart IT
This transformation provided Age UK Mid Mersey with a future proofed IT infrastructure. Initially implemented out of the necessity to work across multiple sites it also provided that all important flexibility for remote working.
Regulations changed quickly with the arrival of COVID-19. and unlike many organisations, Age UK were in the position to be able to react very quickly to the pandemic. The cloud solution they had put in place enabled them to make a seamless transition to homeworking overnight allowing them to continue to operate many of their key services as remotely.
“When lockdown hit in March last year, we were in the fortunate position that we had recently under gone the migration to a hosted desktop solution, meaning our staff were very easily able to log on and work exactly as if they were still in the office with full access to all business critical applications, allowing us to continue to be operational”Shelley Brown, Age UK Mid Mersey CEO
Age UK provide vital services to older people, during Covid the demand for the services soared with the elderly being more at risk and in need of additional support.
“During the first few weeks of lockdown we dealt with over 4,000 support calls, many of them being risk assessments with urgent care needs, keeping our services operational was imperative for safeguarding.”Shelley Brown, Age UK Mid Mersey CEO
The team at Age UK have also experienced other benefits of moving to a hosted desktop solution, it has encouraged the improvement of folder structures, with the team working and sharing data more efficiently. There is also the peace of mind that everything is stored in the cloud and not locally on desktops.
This provides an increased level of protection for Age UK Mid Mersey’s as all their data is stored centrally in a secure data centre, and backed up regular, rather than stored locally on employees’ laptops and other devices.
“We chose to partner with Smart IT as they already had a proven track record of working with Age UK charities in other parts of the country and we felt they took the time to understand our needs.Shelley Brown, Age UK Mid Mersey CEO
Repurposing our old equipment helped reduce the costs of the project, which is a big factor for a charity, they have also been exceptionally flexible, even providing rented desktops when required.”
Back in October, just as the UK entered the second lockdown, Age UK Mid Mersey found themselves in the unfortunate circumstances where their telephone supplier were unable to carry on operating their telephone system. Leaving them with only mobile phones and a temporary telephone line to rely on.
Smart IT stepped in and managed to deploy their cloud telephone system “Smart Connect” to all staff, again using existing equipment. More importantly the entire new telephone system was installed remotely with no need for engineers to visit sites at all.
“We had a real challenge with our telephone systems and lines, being without telephones even for a day is an issue for us. Smart IT, found us a temporary solution that allowed an inbound number, and worked hard behind the scenes to get us back up and running with a new cloud telephone system.”Shelley Brown, Age UK Mid Mersey CEO