Near Me in Social Services

Published in Features on 4 Feb 2021
Near Me


Near Me in Social Services was a project that Iriss led in partnership with the NHS Near Me and the Scottish Government Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Programme over Autumn/Winter 2020/21.

To avoid any confusion, particularly if you're reading this page from outside Scotland, note that Near Me is the branding used by many Scottish public sector organisations for the Attend Anywhere video consulting platform.

Building on the rapid escalation of video consulting in health settings over the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic and existing policy drivers for technology enabled care, the project produced new evidence around the priorities, enablers and challenges of using video consulting in social services. To do this we took a blended approach:

  • Supported 5 services to trial the use of Near Me in their practice through an intensive Quality Improvement (QI) cycle. Participant services in the QI group: West Lothian Criminal and Youth Justice team; East Lothian Duty and Response Team; Fife Council Children and Families Disability Social Work; Wheatley Group - Fullarton Service; Angus HSCP
  • Gathered evidence and learning from established social care settings with experience of using Near Me
  • Provided light touch improvement support to a number of social services organisations to explore how Near Me could be used in their practice
  • Brought services together to collaboratively share learning and experience through a Learning Network

Near Me Learning Network

Iriss hosted five Learning Network sessions between November 2020 and March 2021. The themed sessions included; tools and techniques to support remote communication; digital awareness; developing training and learning materials; shared learning from the Quality Improvement group and about QI methodology; looking to the future and next steps.

Working in this collaborative and evidence-based way, the Learning Network aimed to inspire, energise and influence members and wider stakeholders, thereby advancing work around Near Me in Social Services.

The Near Me Learning Network offered a safe place for members to:

  • explore their use of Near Me
  • share their learning
  • resources
  • stories
  • gather evidence of impact

An introduction to Near Me in Social Services

Listen to Louise Bowen, Project Manager, Iriss

Tools and techniques for remote communication

Listen to Janet Crozier, Knowledge Manager, Knowledge Services, NHS Education for Scotland

Digital inclusion

Listen to Aaron Slater, Digital Participation Manager at SCVO

Using Near Me in practice

Listen to Tanya Anderson, GIRFEC Development Officer at CrossReach – using Attend Anywhere to provide counselling support.

Listen to Gillian Fyfe, Head of Digital at Alzheimer Scotland, speak about their experiences of using Near Me to provide support to those living with dementia, family members and professionals.

Getting started with Near Me

Information to help you plan for using Near Me in your service can be found here. National guidance for Implementing Near Me in Social Services has been developed and you can find it on this page

The links below will take you away from this page to other websites.

Quality improvement

Quality improvement is about giving the people closest to an issue, the time, permission, skills and resources they need to solve them. It involves a collaborative and coordinated approach to solving a problem using specific methods and tools with the aim of bringing about a measurable improvement.

Adapted from Quality improvement made simple: What everyone should know about health care quality improvement, The Health Foundation, April 2021, p.3

Listen to Paula Quinn, Learning Development Adviser at SSSC, speak about keeping the Quality Improvement conversation going.

Listen to Yvonne Leathley, Senior Improvement Adviser at the Care Inspectorate, speak about a project to supply digital devices to care homes to improve connectivity.

Stories from the sector

Here you will find stories from different services about their Near Me journey in written and video form.

This recording is from Scottish Digital Health and Care Learning Network Webinars Near Me: Care Inspectorate and Penumbra.

Remote video URL

In this webinar Yvonne Leathley,;Senior Improvement Adviser, Care Inspectorate discusses how person- centred care can be delivered through near Me, and Nigel Henderson, Chief Executive, Penumbra, describes how Penumbra has used Near Me to provide the Distress Brief Intervention in Aberdeen and Moray since the start of Covid-19 when they had to withdraw face to face meetings. The webinar was recorded 25th May 2020.

Evidence and further reading