Government to pump more than £100m into digital social care

As part of its Better Care Fund framework, the government has allocated £100m to accelerate digitisation in social care, £50m to improve data, as well as £35m for the creation of an innovation and improvement unit

The government has announced £100m in funding for digital social care, as part of wider plans to improve service provision for the care sector.

While combined funding of £2bn has been previously announced, the funding has now been allocated, with a portion going towards technological advances.

The funding comes as the government launches its Better Care Fund framework, aiming to ensure £16.8bn is spent on improving social care services over the next 10 years, as outlined in the People at the heart of care whitepaper, published in December 2021.

This includes accelerating the use of technology in the social care sector, with the government announcing £100m will be spent over the next two years on digital technologies, including digital social care records.

Health minister Helen Whately said the package of reforms “focuses on recognising care with the status it deserves, while also focusing on the better use of technology, the power of data and digital care records, and extra funding for councils – aiming to make a care system we can be proud of”.

In March 2022, the then health and social care secretary, Sajid Javid, set out a government target to have 80% of all care providers move away from paper-based records by 2024. The government hopes this will ensure all information that staff need to support a person’s care can be available digitally.

The government is also looking for expressions of interest from integrated care systems to fund care technologies “that focus on the quality of care and help reduce avoidable hospital admissions, or which will support people to live independently” as part of the adult social care technology fund.

£35m will be spent on creating a new innovation and improvement unit, aiming to explore creative solutions for improving care, and £50m will go towards improving social care insight, data and quality assurance.

The chief nurse for adult social care, Deborah Sturdy, said the social care reforms “recognise the enormous potential in investing in the professional development of our highly skilled workforce”.

“Along with technological advancements that will make the lives of care workers easier, this plan is an exciting continuation of the government’s commitment to reform social care,” she said.

Although there has been huge investment in healthcare technology in recent years, social care has not received the same level of funding and is far behind its counterparts in the NHS.

In February 2022, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) published a whitepaper outlining measures to improve the link between the NHS and social care. The paper set out an approach to designing shared outcomes, with “person-centred care” as a priority. 

Read more about social care and technology:

  • Scotland’s five-year strategy aims to make it easier for people to access their own health and social care data, improve data flows between organisations, and transform the way data is used to enhance.
  • Health secretary wants 80% of providers to abandon paper-based records by 2024 ahead of broader plans for digital health and care.
  • A white paper outlines measures including digital care records under move to help individuals receive “better, more joined-up care”.

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