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NHSX and NHS Business Services Authority have launched a new app to support 1.5 million adult social care staff with digital guidance and support resources.
The Care Workforce tool will cover workers operating across 18,000 care providers in England. As the social care workforce gets expanded through a new recruitment campaign, the app is intended as a single digital hub for guidance relating to the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as advice around mental wellbeing and discounts for social care staff.
Beyond the current public health emergency, there are plans to evolve the mobile tool, which is being launched under the new Care brand, into a networking platform for the social care workforce. A version of the app for NHS workers is also being considered.
“As part of our continued work to back the care sector, we have launched a new app specifically for care workers to make sure they have the most up-to-date guidance to keep them safe and connected with their colleagues across the country, which also allows them to access discounts like their NHS counterparts,” said health and social care secretary Matt Hancock.
The app's features include learning resources on areas such as infection control, as well as practical advice and support for mental health. It also signposts free access to apps such as Silvercloud, Daylight and Sleepio, which are intended as a way to help care staff cope with the pressures of the pandemic, with programmes covering sleep, stress and resilience.
“[The adult social care] workforce has many challenges at the moment, including how to keep services running during the Covid-19 situation, but also how to ensure issues such as safeguarding, mental capacity and rights under the Care Act are not lost," said Kathryn Smith, chief executive at the Social Care Institute for Excellence.
“We’ve all been using technology a lot more in the past few weeks, and I’m sure this will be a really useful addition to help the workforce provide the best care and support they can during the current crisis,” she said.
The launch of the tool follows numbers around a surge in usage of digital platforms by healthcare workers during the coronavirus emergency. According to NHS Digital, there was a rise in the use of Microsoft Teams, which was made available to NHS organisations for free for a limited period, to tackle the increased risks associated with the outbreak.
According to NHS Digital, the messaging tool was used to facilitate 973,072 private online chats from 22-28 March. The number rose from 6,804 on 22 March to a peak of 243,927 on 26 March.