Commission calls for adult social care to get digital revamp

A commission on adult social care has called for the government to fund a personalised social care innovation programme, as well as invest £450m to replace outdated care and housing technology infrastructure

The adult social care sector is suffering from a lack of digital services, according to a commission led by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the TEC Services Association (TSA).

The commission has published a report calling for the government to take action to ensure digital social care becomes commonplace in local authorities and care providers. It said that although there are pockets of innovation across the country, not enough councils offer digital social care.

Although there has been huge investment in healthcare technology over the past few years, social care has not received the same funding and is far behind their counterparts in the NHS.

The commission is calling on government to invest a minimum of £450m in “capital funding nationally to replace current care and housing technology infrastructure”.

“In exchange, councils would commission integrated care and technology responses, which leverage consumer channels and their technologies,” the report said.

“The government should ensure all new homes are ‘care ready’ and designed for digital accessibility to accommodate the changing needs of occupiers over their lifetime.”

By 2022, the commission wants a digital inclusion plan and funding programme from government for local areas to advance digital inclusion approaches.

“NHSX should work with technology providers and other adult social care stakeholders to drive the adoption of standards, where these are essential to the performance, reliability and security of the underlying technologies,” the report said.

It also called on the government to fund a two-year personalised care innovation programme, which aims to normalise the use of digital within social care. The commission envisions this as a collection of around 10 person-led digital social care and support projects on a regional basis which would “build digitally-enabled service offers and infrastructures that can then be scaled up across the UK”.

“The proposed personalised care innovation programme needs to focus on people’s needs for digital engagement with essential services and supporting assets, and it will build on exemplar services and their enabling technologies,” the report said.

It is anticipated that each regional project will require the collaboration of care providers, service users, commissioners and technology providers, and will need to consider both public and private support for services and technologies.

The report also said that NHSX should lead a programme to give people the option to control their own health and social care records by 2025, as well as ensuring that data sharing becomes a “central plank of a digital health and social care workforce strategy so health and social care professionals see it as part of their toolkit”.

Commenting on the report, commission chair Rafael Bengoa, said that while care professionals have saved many lives during the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation has also “exposed the need to reconfigure the system they work in”.

“Investing in new approaches to care and technology will not only support the recovery process after Covid, it will also help to reform social care more widely and create future resilience. I also believe this commission’s report is relevant for many countries in Europe and beyond,” Bengoa said.

Read more about technology and social care

  • The Care Workforce tool will be rolled out to 1.5 million professionals as a hub for practical guidance and support.
  • A project has been launched to find out about citizen understanding around data uses, and how perception may have been affected after the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • A group of 16 local authorities was selected to receive the grant from NHS Digital to fund digital projects for adult social care.  

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