A simple guide to demand analysis in the delivery of victim support services


Managing victim support services can be full of challenges. Matching capacity with demand is a key approach to removing some of the visible and hidden backlogs along a victim support service pathway. In this article we show how to conduct demand and capacity analysis to improve victim support services.

What is gap analysis and how can it help me?

The number of victims seeking support following a crime varies with a variety of factors including seasonality, school holidays, geography and others. This results in the build up of waiting because demand for work often exceeds the capacity available to do that work

In addition, the amount of support required by victims of crime varies significantly depending upon factors such as; the nature of the crime, the support needed and the ability of the individual to help themselves and others.

Understandably then, the demand for victim support services fluctuates up and down significantly with different services experiencing their own peaks and troughs throughout the year.

At the same time, the capacity available to provide support services is fixed at a level that is usually established not by any link to demand but by the level of funding available to provide such services.

Consequently, service providers experience a continual mismatch between the demand for services and the capacity available to deal with it. Managing this can be challenging and difficult.

Accurate analysis of victim support processes and a clear understanding of demand and capacity are essential to achieve effective and sustainable service transformation.

How do we do it? 

Process mapping underpins all service redesign, demand, capacity, activity and queue management, for victim support flow modelling and service planning.

Process mapping, along with measurement of demand, capacity, activity and backlog provides the evidence you need for service improvement. If you don’t understand the processes, you risk changing parts of a process which will not improve the service from the client’s perspective and may actually incur more waits and delays.


Once the process map is complete, the next stage is analysing it by considering the following:

  • Where are the delays, queues and waiting built into the process?
  • Where are the bottlenecks?
  • What are the longest delays?

When measuring victim services, you need to understand and reduce variation in order to improve patient flow. Variation can be seasonal, monthly, weekly, daily or hourly. Much of the variation in victim systems is controlled upon understanding of the patient flow.

Analysing and understanding current system variation is essential in order to reduce overall victim journey times. The variation between demand and capacity is one of the main reasons why queues occur, because every time demand exceeds capacity, a queue is formed showing itself as a waiting list or backlog.

Key measures

There are three key measures that impact service:

  • Capacity
  • Demand
  • Backlog

They need to be understood if you are to manage queues, deliver effective service and make informed decisions. You should aim to measure these factors in the same units for the same period of time so that you can compare them on a single graph.

It is sensible to measure the capacity for all critical resources as these are most likely to constrain the available capacity. For example, in Domestic Violence Cases, the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) may offer advocacy services as part of a support program. As IDVAs are a critical resource, their availability is often constrains the entire process.

How to measure demand

Multiply the number of victims referred from all sources by the time it takes to support a victim. For example, an advocacy session may last one hour so 12 victims having advocacy support each day would take 60 x 12 = 720 minutes per day.

How to measure capacity

Multiply the number of critical resources available by the time in minutes available. For example, two IDVAs available for 240 minutes each day would create a capacity of 480 minutes per day.

How to measure backlog

This is normally shown in the number of minutes it will take the victims to be processed. Multiply the number of Victims waiting by the time in minutes it takes to process a victim. For example, 20 patients waiting for advocacy support x 60 minute advocacy each session = 1,200 minutes backlog. On a daily basis, there may be additional demand arriving for a service which adds to the backlog.

Assessing results

The data used in the above example is plotted in Figure 1 showing the way that fluctuations in demand against a fixed capacity are causing backlog to increase over time.

For Simon's blog

This quick introduction demonstrates the need to measure your demand, capacity, activity and backlog on a daily basis.

Handling variation

Collecting demand data over a longer period of time allows you to carry out statistical analysis of the demand. Although the analysis becomes more complicated, it allows you to build a richer picture of the process and enables you to make the best use of resources to cope with the challenges of the service. The statistics can then be used to identify the minimum level of capacity you need to ensure that the backlog doesn’t spiral out of control.

The statistics can also be used in simulation models that will enable you to understand how likely problematic events are to occur. For example, if you know that once in every 100 working days you are likely to experience a demand level that is twice the available capacity, then you can make contingency plans to handle that situation as it occurs. This could involve for example, transferring staff from less critical areas of work or recruiting agency support to temporarily increase capacity. Using simulation will allow you to test out which of the solutions seems to offer the best and most cost effective result.


Matching capacity with demand is a vital tool in ensuring that victim support services are managed with optimum efficiency. Measuring the capacity, demand and backlog on a daily basis will show when problems are occurring and allow timely interventions. Using statistics to predict the likelihood that problems will occur is a good way to understand the issues BEFORE they happen and allow management plans to be developed ahead of time.

If you would like to find out more about our new demand and capacity planning service, then please click HERE to access the full case study and to download our service overview.

With further cuts on the horizon, as recently announced, there is no better time to ensure that you have an accurate picture of where your resources need to be allocated – call or email us now for an initial conversation!

Please do not hesitate to call or email or 07515 875381 to find out more about our services.

Simon Pegg is Director of Holleth Analytical Solutions Limited, a business consultancy providing problem solving and decision support to the public sector. For more information, contact him at

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In 1948, The NHS was founded to provide healthcare to all who needed it, free at the point of delivery. In the same year, The National Assistance Act established social care as a separately funded, means tested service. Care and health have remained largely separate ever since.

But we are now 65 years on – the world has changed. People live much longer – a good thing! –but as a consequence  many people live with long term health conditions. This creates pressure on both the health and social care systems. People over 65 occupy a significant percentage of hospital beds and require more care and support at home. The boundaries between health and social care have thus become increasingly blurred, with more people having a mixture of needs that are hard to compartmentalize. In the meantime immense pressures on local authority funding lead to increased rationing of publicly funded care, whilst the NHS remains a universal service to all.

It is time we started to think differently; we need to create a new model of integrated health and social care that is more sustainable, better coordinated around the needs of people,  and focused on services in people’s homes rather than long term care in residential settings.

There have been endless reviews over the years, the latest of which have led to the Care Bill currently before parliament which will modernise the legal framework for social care and address the funding issue of capped costs. The stated ambition of government is that health and care will be joined up by 2018 but some fundamental questions remain: who should be entitled to health and social care and what should that entitlement be? where should the balance of responsibility between the individual and the state sit? how do we make a service universal yet means tested?

Of course this then leads to wider questions around well being, and how government can best support local services that actually improve people’s well being and prevent them from entering the health and social care system. As new local arrangements are set up  through Health and Well Being Boards, with health commissioning transferred over to Clinical Commissioning Groups and Public Health becoming the responsibility of to Local Authorities, does this present us with new opportunities to get this right?

Some call it transformation, others integration … but whatever you call it locally, here at RedQuadrant we are helping organisations to work across health and social care to tackle these problems and find sustainable solutions that both manage the new demand and improve outcomes for people. We have a range of specialists with expertise in health and social care who can help you deliver your vision for integrated care, supporting you and helping you prepare for the forthcoming changes in the Care and Support White Paper.

If you are looking for help to develop your plans, or accelerate existing ones into reality, please contact Frank Curran for an initial conversation – or 07515 875381.

Trending topics: Promoting permanency

The Children and Families Bill aims to level the playing field for all children and young people ‘to succeed, no matter what their background’. It focuses on the need to place children in permanent and stable homes with a loving carer as early as possible, enabling positive attachments to be formed and sustained. Building on the reforms suggested in An Action Plan for Adoption: Tackling Delay, the Bill: promotes ‘fostering for adoption’ so that children are placed sooner with families that are likely to adopt them; ensures that searching for a perfect or partial ethnic match does not become a barrier to finding a child a parent; improves support for adoptive families; and creates a new power for Ministers to drive an increase in adopter recruitment by requiring outsourcing if necessary.

The refocused scrutiny on permanency options means a necessary shift in priorities for care services. They will need to move away from linearity and instead develop internal capabilities to plan effectively within each child’s bigger picture. RedQuadrant have a team of specialists with expertise across all aspects of children’s social care. Building internal capacity and capability is a big part of what we do and our ability to bring in consultants with deep knowledge of specific areas including fostering and adoption means that we are well placed to support local authorities in this re-prioritisation.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help and how our unique approach to permanency planning can bring about real sustainable changes to improve services to children, drop us an email or give us a call for an initial conversation.

Trending topics: The Mutuals Support Programme

The MSP is a Cabinet-Office managed £10 million fund that provides professional support to new and developing mutuals so they can overcome barriers to growth. It procures services for eligible organisations, helping them to develop by providing professional expertise and advice whilst simultaneously building a valuable knowledge sharing database. Since making the first awards in June 2012, over £1m worth of professional advice and support for 21 live and developing mutuals has been procured. The government aspires for one million employees to be in public-sector mutuals by 2015. Are you one of them?

For more information on how we can support you in delivering alternative service delivery models, including creating public service mutuals, see our webpage for more information.