West Kent Mind enriches lives through better mental health by offering support to Get Well, Stay Well and Thrive. They are one of over 100 local Mind organisations affiliated to national Mind who together form the Mind federation, a powerful voice for mental health in England and Wales. This enthusiastic, dedicated team has a history of receiving excellent feedback and awards for the support it provides.
Record keeping was a challenge, however, and often involved paper forms, manual data entry, and spreadsheets – all of which consumed considerable time and effort. The team has tried introducing a CRM system for years without much success. Necessary features, such as case management and custom reporting were overly complicated or out of reach entirely.
“We saw many presentations, but it was a fairly clear choice. I could read the room, and knew that people were seeing stuff on screen that they could more or less understand. Beacon was very intuitive.”
West Kent Mind began working with Beacon in early 2023. Their first use of the platform was to run Creative Minds: a 24-week engagement programme that provides access to creative events such as art, printmaking, and knitting.
To manage the programme, Beacon needed to track and manage enrolments, waitlists, attendance, and participant feedback. The journey to realise that process started with workshops led by Beacon’s Customer Success team.
“Alexa (Beacon’s Customer Development Manager) built it while we watched. Implementation was simple and straightforward, and as the fields, record types, and so on unfolded in front of my eyes, the architecture was easy to understand. It made sense and I saw right away how it could work for another project that we were developing.”
To run all the classes over the full 24 weeks, required extensive records, forms, and 48 Beacon Workflows. Beacon demonstrated how to edit records and create custom fields, and they created the first four workflows for West Kent Mind. Brian was then able to do the rest of the work himself.
With support from Beacon’s live chat and a few visits to Beacon’s Guide, the implementation was completed quickly without any complications. West Kent Mind were able to build this out at a good speed. They were able to fine-tune details that came up during or after implementation.
Beacon’s customer service team continued to check in throughout, ensuring the implementation went well and resulting in an elegant and efficient system.
“This has been a real game changer for us as an organisation. After only seven months, we can evidence and analyse what we do on a consistent and ongoing basis. These metrics are essential to the mission, and to securing funding too.”
West Kent Mind are now able to optimise their resources. The team always know who and how many to expect for each session. Then they can not only quickly and efficiently record attendance, but also who contacted them to say they couldn’t make it, anyone who decides not to continue with the programme partway through, people who would join a waitlist, and so on.
Feedback from attendees is gathered using SWEMWBS (Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale – a set of seven standardised questions). This was previously collected by hand. People can now scan a QR code and answer the questions on a Beacon Form. It’s quick and private. West Kent Mind now capture feedback at the beginning, middle, and end of the process and feel the digital format has increased the quality of feedback.
“Before Beacon, everyone who worked on the front line at West Kent Mind had the experience of gathering wellbeing metrics from clients on paper, knowing full well that raw data would rarely go anywhere. Making using that data easy is one of the things that's been transformative.”
The added benefits of data privacy, security, and reporting have gone on to be instrumental to the Solace Café project, which was the next thing implemented in Beacon. This is an out-of-hours service for people in or at risk of emotional crisis, aimed at reducing pressure on the NHS.
The system enables secure notes to be kept on each group and for individuals, which can be looked at along with the secure feedback. The end result is better data that’s easy to access, analyse, and report on. West Kent Mind will soon extend the service from four days per week to daily.
“We collect our metrics using Beacon Forms again by asking some quick questions. We can then show that people came to us instead of calling a crisis team or going to A&E, which is the basis of our funding.”
It’s now viable and easy to report things like the percentage of attendees who experienced an improvement in their mental health, and even compare that with measurements across the UK population. This will deliver a wealth of information to present and work with in caring for mental health, optimising programmes, and much more.
Perhaps most importantly, the data now being collected and collated can be used in all-important reports to funders. Being able to demonstrate results of funding and alignment with the bid and objectives is crucial to securing future applications.
It was exciting for the team to process and see real data; and especially for West Kent Mind’s management team who can now glance at dashboards to see what’s happening and what needs to be done in each project. There is huge scope for expansion to other areas of work, including counselling case management itself.
“Beacon has saved us so much time across the board and we’re getting things done that have been on hold for so long. It has only been in place for a short time, but I already can’t imagine how we did without it.”
This enables far greater focus on the charity’s fundamental purpose – helping people. If you think your charity could benefit from records that are easy for your team to create, maintain, access, and report on, we’d love to hear from you!