Boosting digital transformation in social care

Whether it’s digitised care records, facilitation of better use of data, assistive technology and other medical devices there has been a huge shift in recent years with lots more on the horizon.


We’ve heard much about how digital transformation can dramatically improve the quality and safety of care, particularly with real time data integrated with NHS records. Given workforce pressures this has become even more pressing.

The Department of Health and Social Care’s white paper People at the Heart of Care and their subsequent policy paper, Data Saves Lives, set out an ambition to ensure that at least 80% of CQC registered providers have a digital social care record (DSCR) by March 2024. That is only six months away.

Currently 45% of care providers now use DSCR. The DSCRs are person-centred and enable information to be shared securely and in real-time with authorised individuals across the health and care sector. And in the longer term, they are the platform on which other remote care tools can integrate and can enable the greater personalisation of care planning that focuses on the individual. This is good news as research shows moving to digital social care records can save at least 20 minutes of a carer’s admin time daily.

Access to funding

Many of you working in innovation, technology and digital transformation in adult social care (ASC) have been excited about the NHS Transformation Directorate’s new ASC Technology Fund which supports the implementation of care technology in the sector. If you are a registered ASC provider and want to find out how you can access funding to implement digital care technology including DSCRs you can select your Integrated Care System region here.

New digital framework

To support digital working in the sector, the Department of Health and Social Care has developed guidance for care providers and local authorities in England on What Good Looks Like for Social Care. The guidance has been developed in collaboration with Partners in Care and Health (a partnership between the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services), provider sector stakeholders and national membership organisations. The WGLL framework is part of a suite of guidance for digital working across health and social care and is structured around seven success measures for care leaders to digitise, connect and transform services.

Opportunities in digital

For many social care providers, the first step to digital transformation is the move from paper-based care records to using digital care records – and this transition can feel daunting but as we’ve outlined here there’s funding to support care providers make the initial investment and guidance to support providers on their digital journey. To support care providers make decisions about which care technology solutions to buy or deploy the NHS Transformation Directorate has launched the AI and digital regulations service for health and social care. It explains the regulations and guidance that may apply to using the technology in social care settings.

Do read techUK’s Five Point Plan for CareTech launched at their Health and Care Summit on 12 September. techUK’s plan is an insightful read developed in collaboration with innovators working to bring digital transformation to social care and led by techUK’s Social Care Working Group. Looking ahead we can expect the national Digital Workforce Plan in the autumn, the aim of which is to ensure the health and social care sector can deliver on its digital transformation ambitions to the benefit of patients and staff across the country.

A future Labour government?

We know that in their 5 Missions For A Better Britain Labour discuss harnessing the power of data and digital to join up different parts of the service so health and social care work in a joined up way. They intend to drive up inter-operability from the bottom up and set a clearer, centralised direction for future procurement of data systems, so they are genuinely interoperable between providers.

A version of this piece first appeared in the September /October issue of Care Home Management.  

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