More than 50% of care providers have adopted digital records

The adoption of digital social care records has reached more than 50%, but the sector still has a way to go to reach the government’s target of 80% by March 2024

More than half of all social care providers have adopted digital social care records, according to social care minister Helen Whately.

In a written answer to a question by fellow conservative MP Julian Knight, Whately said the Digitising Social Care programme, an initiative to accelerate technology within social care services, is working to increase adoption of digital records.

“Since the programme’s inception, adoption of digital social care records (DSCRs) has increased from a baseline of 40% in December 2021 to more than 50% now,” she said.

“DSCRs have been shown to deliver significant productivity benefits, releasing up 20 minutes per care worker per shift on average.”

However, with an increase of just over 10% in 18 months, the government’s target of 80% of care providers adopting digital records by March 2024 is closely looming.

Set out by the then health secretary Sajid Javid in March 2022, the plan of having 80% of all care providers move away from paper-based records by 2024, is an ambitious target. The government hopes this will ensure all information that staff need to support a person’s care can be available digitally.

At the time, Javid said: “Digitisation in social care is not a ‘nice to have’; it’s an absolute necessity.”

As part of the programme, the government has set up the adult social care digital transformation fund, which provides financial support to care providers.

According to Whately, the government has invested almost £50m so far to help care providers. In April 2023, she announced a further £100m would be available over the next two years as part of the £16.8bn Better Care Fund framework, aiming to improve social care services over the next 10 years.

At the time, 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”.

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. 

Whately said the Digitising Social Care programme works with teams “in the integrated care systems across England to develop plans, track uptake of technology and collect evidence on the impact of its work”.  

The NHS itself has a target of 90% of NHS trusts having digital records live or in the process of being implemented by December 2023.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) expects that digital transformation initiatives in health and social care will free up 23,000 hours of nursing time for care yearly.

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 whitepaper outlines measures including digital care records under move to help individuals receive “better, more joined-up care”.

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