CHARMS - Residential Family Centres

Data Protection and Security

ISO 27001 - information Security Management

With CHARMS all sensitive data on children and vulnerable adults is held, securely in data centres in the UK which comply with the ISO27001 international standard described by the ISO themselves as:

'ISO/IEC 27001 is the world's best-known standard for information security management systems (ISMS). It defines requirements an ISMS must meet.

The ISO/IEC 27001 standard provides companies of any size and from all sectors of activity with guidance for establishing, implementing, maintaining and continually improving an information security management system.

Conformity with ISO/IEC 27001 means that an organization or business has put in place a system to manage risks related to the security of data owned or handled by the company, and that this system respects all the best practices and principles enshrined in this International Standard. -

CHARMS is hosted in data centres which are operated by a company called  ANS  which is ISO27001 certified. We maintain full disaster recovery so that even in the event of a complete failure of one of the data centres the backup data centre takes over so that the service continues - vital for the children services environment.

Cyber Threats (Ransomware)

Cyber threats are also now much more prevalent and at CHARMS we renew our Cyber Essentials Plus certification in the UK on a yearly basis to ensure that your data is as safe as possible from attacks such as ransomware attacks. The Cyber Essentials Plus certification includes a rigorous, yearly inspection of our infrastructure and an in depth analysis of our security procedures.

With CHARMS you can also connect remote users securely and seamlessly using multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO).

All of these measures are implemented with CHARMS and we have your data covered, all the time.

Policies and Procedures

CHARMS Document Store. CHARMS allows important documentation to be uploaded. These documents (any file format) can be easily accessed by anyone with the correct user permission or emailed onto anyone, securely using the built-in CHARMS Portal. They would include statement of purpose, CCTV and whistle-blowing policy, as well as all other policies and procedures,

Staff/Volunteer Recruitment And Management

Staff and Volunteer Management

One of the first things inspectors will want to see is evidence of the qualifications of the registered manager. CHARMS has a dedicated, built-in staff/volunteer management system.

Staff records all in one place. including:

  • applications
  • CVs
  • Qualifications
  • Interviews
  • References
  • DBS checks
  • Contracts
  • Probation
  • Staff supervisions
  • Absence and sickness (including Bradford Factor)
  • Holiday entitlement, applications and approvals
  • Annual appraisals
  • Complaints/compliments
  • Changes in job roles
  • Personal details (such as bank details, disabilities, medical information – all held securely)
  • Ongoing training and much more

(All files e.g. CVs are uploaded to CHARMS)

The master copy of your statement of purpose is kept in the unique CHARMS Document Store. It can be shared with all staff and third parties. When it is updated the previous version is archived and each version is dated so inspectors can see, at a glance, how up-to-date it is.

Case Recording And Compliance

(See Appendix A – National Minimum Standards – 20, Records)

Parent and child records all in one place

The parent(s) and child(ren) each have their own records, linked together as a family group.

The front sheet, record includes:

  • Name
  • Parent/child photos
  • Previous address
  • Date of Birth
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • National identity
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Disabilities
  • Referral information
  • Mobile
  • Email address
  • LA Social Worker
  • Key worker
  • Other professionals
  • Personal details e.g. allergies, dietary needs, prescribed medication, likes, dislikes…
  • GP
  • Reason for care
  • Original date of care
  • Placement details including end date and reason
  • Placement stability (RAG) rating
  • Notes/Care Plan

The full history of:

  • Pre-admission risk assessment
  • Referral
  • Initial assessment
  • Placement plan
  • Ongoing daily/weekly monitoring and assessment
  • Incidents and accidents, with full chronology and record of date reported to statutory bodies
  • Outcomes
  • Court report
  • Updates for LASWs, which may be shared securely through the built-in, free CHARMS portal
  • Parent contributions, complaints and concerns
  • Medication administered

(All files e.g. children’s care plans from the LA are uploaded to CHARMS)

Establishment/Unit Records

Every event in relation to the home is recorded immediately, electronically using a PC, Laptop, Tablet or smartphone. These include

  • Health and safety inspections
  • Fire alarm tests
  • Fire drills
  • Building insurance renewals
  • Television licence renewal
  • Damage/repairs (with photos attached)
  • Maintenance staff can see a list of repairs required and record completion

Management Oversight And Management Information Reporting

  • Managers and team leaders can monitor caseload and input file checks entirely electronically
  • A full suite of management reports is available and all new reports are written free of charge
  • Full history of all placements
  • Vacancy lists, duty/out of hours/on call register, parent/child register
  • Comprehensive and flexible reporting capabilities with option to create your own. These may be printed, previewed on screen, output to MS Excel, PDF, or Word files
  • Feedback from professionals

Young Person (Parent) Login

Children and young people can logon

  • to provide contemporaneous feedback
  • to share their thoughts
  • to keep their own diary
  • to answer questionnaires

Other Benefits

  • Standard letters/mail merge
  • Built in audit trail shows when and who has modified data. Accidental changes to data can be recovered
  • Telephone Hot-line support. You actually get to speak to people – not automated telephone menus. Service level agreements guarantee a speedy response to any questions that may arise
  • Data consistency. You will be entering establishment, staff and children details only once. No separate lists of referrals, enquiries, placements, vacancies, duty information – all of these can be generated from CHARMS
  • Secure Hosting – CHL partners with two of the country’s leading hosting providers: UK Fast – ISO 27001 accredited provider. Use dedicated data centres with ultra-fast connectivity, guaranteed uptime and disaster recovery plans ensuring our applications are always available. All data is hosted in the UK
  • Digital verification – Progress items can now be electronically verified by other users within CHARMS
  • OVI Map Integration – Seamless integration of the OVI map functionality allowing postcode searching of carers and other useful information
  • Outlook Integration – The OMG and ERGO Outlook plug-ins allow referrals of children and email attachments to be created in CHARMS directly from Outlook
  • CHARMS Email – Emails can be sent directly from CHARMS to any address recorded in the database and documents uploaded to progress files can be easily attached and sent
  • Duty Alerts – Progress actions recorded by the duty social worker are flagged up to office/admin staff to ensure any critical actions are not overlooked
  • CHARMS User Community. As a user of CHARMS, you have influence over how future versions of the system should work. We take a great deal of time listening to your feedback to ensure you are happy with the system
  • New starter and refresher training can be provided on and off site to suit your requirements, free of charge
  • Standard letters/mail merge
  • Cost effective. CHARMS has been in active use across the UK for the last 11 years and has grown in the wealth of features it provides. However we have striven to keep the price down in recognition of the budget constraints placed on the public and voluntary sector


STANDARD 20 – Records

Underpinning Legislation:

Regulations: 19. Records

Outcomes: Records are clear, up-to-date and stored securely, and contribute to an understanding of the parents’ and children’s life.

20.1 The centre implements an effective policy that clarifies the purpose, format and content of information to be kept on the registered person’s files and information to be kept on the parents’ and children’s files. Records may be kept in electronic form, provided the information is capable of being reproduced in a legible form.

20.2 Staff understand the nature of records maintained and follow the centre’s policy for the keeping and retention of files, managing confidential information, and access to files (including files removed from the premises). There is a system in place to monitor the quality and adequacy of record keeping and take action when needed.

20.3 The registered person ensures there is a private and secure record for each family. Parents and children understand the nature of records maintained and where possible, read their files, correct errors and add personal statements.

20.4 Information about individuals is kept confidential and only shared with those who have a legitimate need to know the information.

20.5 Entries in records are legible, clearly expressed and non-stigmatizing; and distinguish as far as possible between fact, opinion and third party information.

20.6 The registered person works with the responsible authority to share information held in the centre’s records about the parent or child and information held in the responsible authorities’ records. The registered person provides copies of the records and documents in relation to parents and children to the responsible authority immediately, on receipt of a written or electronic request.