A Guide to the Brand Partner Portal Week 6 – Future Functions and New Developments

The final part of our six-part series “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About the Brand Partner Portal” covers how the portal might develop in the future.

Welcome to the final week of our Brand Partner Portal (BPP) overview! We hope that you have found this series useful and have a better understanding of the different ways that the BPP can help us all work together. If you missed any of the previous updates, you can find them here. This week, we’re looking at how the portal might develop in the future and what new functions are coming on board. So, here’s a little glimpse into the future of the BPP…

Programmes

We have added a new tile to the Home page called Programmes, which will go live in July 2022. The first function in the new Programmes section will be for the Warm Homes programme. This will be a new area where partners can easily upload your monthly reports onto a secure database. The team have also moved all the programme guidance into this section of the portal which means you will no longer need to use the filesharing programme “Box” to access this material. 

If you are interested in delivering the Warm Homes programme, please click here to find out how to submit your application before Tuesday 5th July. The Warm Homes project team will be sending out more information and training will be provided closer to the rollout of Scheme Year 12. Please send any questions about this to warmhomes@ageuk.org.uk. 

We will be looking at how other programmes can utilise the BPP in the future for similar activities.

Reporting

We are currently working hard to put reporting in place that will help us and Partners to develop a better understanding of the Services that are offered across the Network. These reports will be created automatically by using the Services content that partners are inputting as they integrate their websites with the BPP (more on this in Week 3’s article here). So, a huge thank you to all brand partners that have already gone through this process. We should have a third of all partners integrated by the end of the summer.

If you are not yet signed up to a Website Integration sprint (where we support you to put your Services/Shops content into the BPP), please get in touch with us at portalaccess@ageuk.org.uk. We currently have space available on Sprints 5 and 6.

Website Integration of Events and Activities

A handful of brand partners joined us as we tried to bring the Events and Activities function online for Website Integration. Unfortunately, we had to move that feature back into development for some fixes, but the good news is that the bugs have now been fixed.

We will shortly be getting in touch with some brand partners to ask you to help us test out this functionality before we release the new feature. We’re hoping to be able to test this across the summer and roll out the new feature to partners from Sprint 4 in September.

Local Directory

We believe that by the end of Summer 2022, we will have enough partners who have integrated their websites with the BPP to allow us to switch on our new local directory.

What this means in practice is that visitors to the Age UK website will be able to search for services and shops in their postcode area and receive results from local partners’ websites based on the information those partners have input into the portal. When a user clicks on the search results, they will be taken directly to the integrated brand partner’s website.

If you have not yet been part of a web integration sprint, we will have messaging in place to provide users with the Age UK/Age Cymru in their area so they can visit your website or ring your office. Once a partner completes a website integration sprint, their services and shops will also be searchable on the national site.

Bulk Ordering

Some of you may have spotted a tile on the home page called Bulk Ordering. This function will allow brand partners to order information guides from our fulfilment centre in Warrington. Some examples of Information Guides include Caring for Someone with Dementia; Power of Attorney; and Save Energy Pay Less. We don’t currently have a launch date for the Bulk Ordering system, but we will keep you posted on progress.

Moving Forwards

Although we’ve come to the end of this epic six-part series, we will continue to send you updates as the BPP develops. You can always come back to this series here and if you ever have any questions about the different functions, you are always welcome to contact me on alisa.yingling@ageuk.org.uk.

Best wishes,

Alisa Yingling
Programme Manager

Brand Partner Portal
Age UK

A Guide to the Brand Partner Portal Week 5 – The Quality Function

Week 5 of our six-part series “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About the Brand Partner Portal” takes us through the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) Function.

Welcome to Week Five of the Brand Partner Portal (BPP) overview! This week, we’re looking at the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) Function, which will shortly go live in the BPP.

If you’ve missed an earlier edition from this series, you can view them all here.

What is the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF)?

The Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) is the set of standards and quality expectations that all of us (Age UK, local Age UKs and nations) agree to work within.

The QAF will shortly have a live function in the portal! This function will be used by all members of the Network to submit data relating to Quality, to support continuous quality improvement and to make it easier to meet the requirements of the Age UK Network Quality Standards. ​

Why is the Quality Function important?

The Quality Function on the Portal aims to ‘lighten’ and remove ‘crunch points’ from our external CQS (Charity Quality Standard) and IAQP (I&A Quality Programme) quality assessment processes by supporting partners with continuous self-assessment. By regularly submitting information into the Quality area of the Portal, Partners will be better placed to view more ‘early warning signs’ of potential quality issues through more regular quality monitoring – making it easier for you to spot where action might be needed and to request support. ​

You will also be able use this area of the Portal to report Serious Incidents to Age UK, as required by the Brand Partner Agreement. Using this functionality will enable you to access support sooner if you need it.

The Quality Function will also allow you to see the schedule of your quality assessments and produce and download reports that you can use with your Boards and other stakeholders to provide assurance.​ It will also provide a facility whereby partners can measure the satisfaction of your service users and see the results of those surveys in real time. ​

Brand partners already complete serious incident reports and annual reporting – these are vital to meeting the requirements of the Network Quality Assurance Framework. However, the Portal now makes this much easier, with all these report templates laid out in one place and quicker to complete.

The forms have been co-designed with partners to ensure they capture only the most essential information; are straightforward to complete; and will generate data that is helpful to your organisations in supporting continuous improvement. This data should help you to quickly spot where action needs to be taken and seek support if necessary.

This part of the portal also allows brand partners to produce reports as and when they are needed.​

What can I use the Quality function on the BPP for right now?

The Quality Function will shortly have six sections, but initially only three of these sections will be operational:

  1. Submit Serious Incident Reports
  2. Complete the Quarterly Confirmation Report
  3. Complete the Annual Confirmation Report

Brand partners will shortly be able to use the Quality Function on the portal to submit these three reports.

What else will I be able to do with the Quality Function in the portal?

Later this year, the Quality Function will also support the following functionality:

  • View all of your quality assessment reports – here you will be able to see all of your CQS and IAQP reports
  • See your external assessment schedule – for both the IAQP and CQS standards so you can see the timescales you are working within for your assessments
  • Access your template satisfaction survey

What does the Quality Function look like?

The Quality Function lives on the portal home page – the view of which may be familiar to you at this stage:

Once you click on the Quality tile, you will be taken here:

Access to the Quality Function of the Brand Partner Portal

Last week we wrote to CEOs at your organisation, asking you to let us know who at your organisation will require a login to the Quality Function of the BPP. You can find a copy of this communication and the QAF Portal Web Role form here.

If you have not already sent this information to the Quality Team, you will find a link to the QAF Portal Web Role Form here.

This form needs to be completed and sent to the Quality team at quality@ageuk.org.uk no later than 20th June.

How can I find out more about the Quality Function?

For more information, and to see what each of these sections looks like, we have a training webinar available to view here.

Alternatively, please feel free to send any questions to us on quality@ageuk.org.uk.

Until next time!

Next week is the last of our six-part series ‘Everything you ever wanted to know about the Brand Partner Portal’. We’ll be looking at what new functions are coming down the pipeline and what they will do.

We’ll also be providing a round-up of all six articles in the series in case you missed anything.

If you have any questions about a particular BPP function mentioned above and would like to explore how this can help your organisation, please feel free to get in touch at portalaccess@ageuk.org.uk.

Best wishes,

Alisa Yingling
Programme Manager

Brand Partner Portal
Age UK

A Guide to the Brand Partner Portal Week 4 – The Organisation Info Function

Week 4 of our six-part series “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About the Brand Partner Portal” takes us through the Organisation Info function.

Welcome to Week Four of the Brand Partner Portal (BPP) overview. We hope everyone enjoyed the long bank holiday weekend! This week, we’re looking at the Organisation Info section, which we hope will significantly reduce the duplication of requests for information that your organisation receives. Read on for full details.

If you’ve missed an earlier edition from this series, you can view them all here.

Where to find the Organisation Info Function

Some of the eagle eyed amongst you may have already spotted the Organisation Info section sitting behind the My Portal tile. This function can be found from the home screen (see below). You click on My Portal and the Organisation Info option opens behind it.

The Brand Partner Portal Home Page
The My Portal Section

What is the “Our Organisation Info” Section?

The tile called Our Organisation Info is a dashboard of your organisation’s basic information, including your organisation’s address details, which have been pulled through the local directory.

There is also an overview of the Services/Events/Shops you have uploaded onto portal templates via the Website Integration function of the BPP. Some of you will have already entered this information into the portal if you’ve been on a Website Integration sprint (find out full details about the Website Integration function, including how to book your place on a sprint in our previous edition here).

The Organisation Info function contains a list of fields that partly auto-populate based on data you’ve previously entered into the BPP. However, you will need to add/change information as and when things change within your organisation to keep certain information fields up to date.

Take a look at the pictures below to see what information can be entered into the Organisation Info function:

Below are some photos to give you an idea of the kind information you can fill in:

Organisation Info Example #1

Organisation Info Example #2

Organisation Info Example #3
Organisation Info Example #4

You can see that the Organisation Info function gives you an at-a-glance view of a lot of details about your organisation: the systems you use; the services you offer; and the events/shops you have. This is information that brand partners may have provided elsewhere previously.

As you enter more information into the portal through the other BPP functions (such as the Website Integration function), the Organisation Info function will gather all of this information allowing it to sit in one place for you to easily access at a glance.  

Over time, our ambition is that this will significantly reduce the duplication of requests for information that you, the brand partner, will experience. It also reduces the administrative requirements for Age UK.

As more brand partners add their information, Age UK will be able to turn off some of its processes related to gathering this information elsewhere.

Keeping your information up-to-date

When you have your Website Integration 121s with our team (find out more about this in our last article here), we will talk to you about how to keep your Organisation Info tab up to date.

NB – the information requested in the Organisation Info function is still developing and changing. For example, we will be removing the field asking about the number of people supported as this information is covered by the Quarterly Partner Information Return.

It is important for you to keep your information up to date in the portal so keep an eye on this function. We will keep you informed as and when we make changes that require your attention.

If you have any questions about the Organisation Info function, please drop us a line at portalaccess@ageuk.org.uk.

Until next time!

If you have any questions about a particular BPP function mentioned above and would like to explore how this can help your organisation, please feel free to get in touch via email on portalaccess@ageuk.org.uk.

Next week, we will be writing to you about the long-awaited Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) function on the portal. This will be launching imminently and will affect all partners, so stay tuned for the next important instalment in this series.

Best wishes,

Alisa Yingling
Programme Manager

Brand Partner Portal
Age UK

A Guide to the Brand Partner Portal Week 3 – The Website Integration Function

Week 3 of our six-part series “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About the Brand Partner Portal” takes us through the Website Integration function.

Welcome to Week Three of the Brand Partner Portal (BPP) overview! Last week we wrote to you about the I&A Integration function. If you missed it, you can click here to view all the articles in this series so far.  This week, we’re looking at the Website Integration function – we recommend sharing this article with the staff member at your organisation who manages your website.

Website Integration is the BPP function that will make your organisation’s Services & Shops (and shortly Events & Activities) searchable for the 2 million monthly viewers of the Age UK website. This function will increase traffic to local websites by increasing visibility of local service/shop/event offerings to visitors on the national website. It will also allow users to filter results on your own site so they can more easily find what they are looking for.

Changes to the way your website works

In order to achieve this searchability, we need to make some changes to the way you upload content to your website. Currently, websites are created and managed through Episerver – a Content Management System (CMS). However, in order to allow your services/shops/events to be searchable through the national site and to be filtered on your own site, we need to restructure the way this information is input into your websites.

This will happen through a process known as content rationalisation and migration.

What is Content Rationalisation and Migration?

This is a lot easier than it sounds! We’ve created some dedicated templates for partners to use for uploading Services/Shops/Events to their websites. In the first instance, we’ll be asking you to simply move your existing Services/Shops/Events website info into these templates. Once this is complete, we will be supporting you to then replace your existing Services/Shops/Events pages with these new portal pages.

This exercise is a one-off. Once you’ve moved the existing content, adding and updating Services/Shops/Events will simply happen as usual except this time, you’ll be inputting this new information into the portal templates instead of into the CMS.

We will be guiding you through this process to make the transition as smooth as possible – you can find out more about this in the next section.

The new portal pages will still be found under the same navigation bar you currently have on your websites (see below).

Once your Services/Events/Shops information is migrated to the new templates, not only will the information be searchable through the national website, it will also be searchable on your own site. Users will be able to filter results to find exactly the Service/Event/Shop they are looking for.

See below for an example of what this will look like. In the example, we have filtered the results to only show us Day Care Centre Services.

Guiding you through the process

The initial migration of existing content to the new portal templates is underway. We’re running a series of 6 “Sprints” to help partners through this process.

Sprints are blocks of time in which we help partners to upload their Services and Shops content into the BPP. Some of you have already been part of our Website Integration sprints and we are currently in Sprint 3. We’ve been working hard to streamline this process for partners and our current sprint is running like clockwork.

For those brand partners who have not yet joined a Website Integration sprint, this is what you can expect:

1. Overview webinar – A couple of weeks before the sprint begins, we’ll run an overview webinar for your teams to give them an idea of what to expect and how they can prepare for the sprint.

2. Kick-off workshop – This is when we go over the nuts and bolts of the website integration process with the brand partners’ lead person. This is usually your website lead or marketing person.

3. 1 to 1 Meetings – Our team holds 1 to 1 meetings with each brand partner on the sprint to go over the details of the portal templates and to support you with any questions you might have. These happen in the first two weeks of the sprint.

4. Weekly drop-ins – we also hold a weekly drop-in session with our team. This is where you can come along to ask us any questions that may come up while you are adding your content to the portal. Though each session has a subject theme, we also encourage partners to treat it as an open forum for questions/suggestions/discussion.

5. Content deadline – the sprints give partners about 2 months to complete their content entry.

6. Content checking – once the content has been submitted, our team will check it and discuss any necessary amendments with you.

7. Integration Meeting – once we’re sure that all the content is sound we’ll schedule you in for a website integration meeting where we integrate your portal pages with your website and make it public-facing.

Our final two sprints are Sprint 5 (starting Jan 2023) and Sprint 6 (starting May 2023).

If you are not yet signed up to a sprint, please get in touch with us at portalaccess@ageuk.org.uk. We currently have space available on Sprints 5 and 6.

Progress so far

  • 7 brand partners have completed the process and the portal pages for their Services and Shops are integrated with their website
  • 25 brand partners are going through their integration meetings now and their new content will shortly be public-facing.
  • 19 brand partners are taking part in Sprint 3
  • 25 brand partners are signed up for Sprint 4 (Sept-Dec 22)

Our final two sprints are Sprint 5 (starting Jan 2023) and Sprint 6 (starting May 2023).

If you are not yet signed up to a sprint, please get in touch with us at portalaccess@ageuk.org.uk. We currently have space available on Sprints 5 and 6.

Live Demonstration

We will be running a live demonstration of a website integration at our drop-in session on Wednesday the 1st of June from 10.30-11.30. Age UK Cheshire have kindly agreed to take part in this demonstration, so that other partners can see what this part of the process looks like. If you are interested in joining us, please email portalaccess@ageuk.org.uk and we’ll forward you the invite.

How to find the Website Integration function on the BPP

Once you’ve booked onto a Sprint and completed the process, this is where you will manage any new Services/Shops/Events going forward.

Brand partners can login to the portal (as described in the Introduction to this series) and choose the tile called My Portal (see below outlined in red).

From here, you will be taken to another page with a number of options for entering content into your portal pages:

We’ll discuss the tile called Our Organisation Info next time. But the other five tiles in this view are where you will manage your portal content.

We have developed portal driven templates for you to use for your organisation’s Services and Shops content. (NB- The Events/Activities templates and functionality are still in development.)  The templates are straightforward to use. You can see a clipped example of the template to enter a new service into the portal below:

The content in these templates live inside the portal and the data is searchable by the national website’s local directory.* This means that when someone comes to the Age UK website looking for services/shops/events in their area, the results they receive will be for the brand partner nearest to them.

When the user clicks on those results, they are seamlessly transitioned to the brand partner’s website. The user is not aware that they’ve moved from the national to the local website so the experience feels consistent for them. The new templates will also allow users to filter results on your Services/Shops/Events pages.

* The local directory feature has not yet been switched on. We are waiting for enough partner websites to be integrated to ensure that users have a good experience with the results coming back for their search. We anticipate this will be late summer/early autumn.

Until next time!

If you have any questions about a particular BPP function mentioned above and would like to explore how this can help your organisation, please feel free to get in touch via email on portalaccess@ageuk.org.uk.

Thanks for sticking with us during this series. Next week we’re taking a break due to the shortened bank holiday week, but we’ll be back the week commencing 6th June to look at the Organisation Info function. See you then!

Best wishes,

Alisa Yingling
Programme Manager

Brand Partner Portal
Age UK

Integration of local I&A lines with the national Advice Line

To help make I&A delivery across the network more seamless, the I&A Team have been working on a programme of Integration. Find out all about it here.

A key element of our I&A Strategy is to make our delivery more seamless, and to reduce the need for older people (and those enquiring on their behalf) to repeat themselves when we refer them from national to local services and vice versa.  To this end, we have been working on a programme of Integration, through which the national Advice Line and local Age UK I&A services can work better together to deliver a more accessible and seamless service to people phoning Age UK for I&A. 

There are two elements to the integration programme:

Diverting – local to national. 

This means that local partners set up their I&A phone line to divert to the national Advice Line when they are closed or not available to take calls.  A less automatic version of this is to put the Advice Line number on the local AUKs’ I&A line ansafone message.  Most local partners are set up to divert to the Advice Line.  As a result, older people are more able to access I&A by phone, with the Advice Line being open 11 hours a day, every day of the week.

Callbacks – national to local. 

This means that when the Advice Line gets an enquiry where local support is needed, they can pass a secure message (with name, contact details and nature of enquiry) to the local AUK asking for them to make a callback to the enquirer. (Live transfers are also possible, if the local Age UK is available immediately).

Both elements of integration were working well, with around 90 brand partners up until a couple of years ago, but then the adoption of a new CRM system nationally meant that the callback element no longer worked and had to be rebuilt.  That rebuild has finally been completed, and we are now able to roll out the full integration programme again. 

With both elements working, it means that the Advice Line can effectively triage callers diverted from local Age UK I&A lines, giving information and signposting to most, but booking callbacks for the local I&A service to make for those callers who need it.

How the new system works

The secure messages to enable callbacks are delivered through the new Brand Partner Portal system, which partners are being introduced to and which will increasingly be the method by which partners and national Age UK of share information with each other, especially about services. 

Once they have checked that the relevant local Age UK is integrated and can accept callback requests, Advice Line staff can record on the CRM system that a callback is needed, and this triggers an email to the local Age UK I&A service, asking them to make the callback within 2-5 working days. A local I&A worker can then log on to the Portal to see the details of the case, including contact details, make the callback, and record on the Portal that this action has been taken.

How your I&A service can integrate with the national Advice Line

We are working with local partners depending on the level of support needed to set them up. We have worked first with those who were previously integrated before the CRM change and where there have been no major changes in staffing and systems.  Around 18 local partners are now live on the system, and we are confident that it works well.

The next group of partners we are working with are those who were integrated but where there has since been a new I&A Manager.  Development Advisers are currently in the process of contacting the relevant I&A Managers to check they are still keen to go ahead, and to gather necessary information. The aim is to integrate these partners by mid or end of September.

From September we will work with partners who were previously integrated but may need a bit more support, given significant changes in their service delivery, and consider with them if and how integration can be best used to support their service.  Finally, we will contact the remaining Age UKs to discuss if and how they can be integrated, with the aim of integrating all partners who wish to be integrated by December.

If you have not yet heard from us about when you might be integrated, please contact integrationcustenquiries@ageuk.org.uk to register your interest.

Is integration for everyone?

Yes any partner can be integrated, but not all local partners will feel that now is the right time to proceed with this.  Changes to local working practices brought about by the pandemic may have an impact on a local Age UK’s capacity to support/engage with integration.  If you feel the time is not right for your Age UK to be integrated, the Admin Team can work with you to decide when is the best time.

What support will national Age UK provide in setting this up?

The Admin Team at the national Advice Line are the lead contact for local partners in setting up integration, and any enquiries or issues should be directed to them at integrationcustenquiries@ageuk.org.uk.  The Admin team consists of Allison Brown (Team Leader), Janet Connors, Trina Bailey-Wood and Nikki Evans. The Admin team have already successfully reintegrated 18 Local Age UKs.  They will be supported by the IADAs in rolling it out further.

For more I&A news, information and resources, head to the I&A Hub on WordPress.

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