The UK government has announced £150 million to drive greater adoption of technology and achieve widespread digitisation across adult social care in England, as part of a 10-year plan to reform the sector.
In the white paper, People at the Heart of Care, presented to Parliament by care minister Gillian Keegan, sets out a vision for technology to support independent living and allow staff to provide focused care such as acoustic motion sensors.
It also pledges to ensure at least 80% of social care providers have a digitised care record that can connect to a shared care record in place by March 2024. Currently 60% of social care providers are still using paper records.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the telecommunications industry to ensure home care providers have the necessary infrastructure to work digitally.
Workforce training also will be provided via a digital learning offer to build transferrable digital skills and provide practical guidance on using technology in all care settings.
WHY IT MATTERS
The white paper says technology can complement and enhance the quality of care delivered by the workforce, while digitisation of care records will ensure care staff and multidisciplinary teams have the information needed to provide holistic, person-centred care in any setting.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
The proposals are backed by the new Health and Social Care Levy announced in September, of which £5.4 billion is being invested into adult social care over the next three years.
According to government figures, around 1.7 million people in England use assistive technologies such as personal alarm systems and smart devices to help with tasks such as medicine adherence or sensor technologies to identify falls in domestic settings.
ON THE RECORD
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “This 10-year vision clearly lays out how we will make the system fairer and better to serve everyone, from the millions of people receiving care to those who are providing it.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK and co-chair of the Care and Support Alliance said: “Over time, the paper’s provisions to improve data collection, spread the use of IT across the care sector and put in place a stronger workforce infrastructure are likely to prove extremely valuable, the foundations of a less intensely fragile system in future. However, in all honesty most people would reasonably expect these basics to be in place already.”
Alyson Scurfield, CEO of the Technology Enabled Care Services Association (TSA), said: “It’s vital that digital tools are used more proactively across adult social care, identifying risk and preventing incidents, so people can live healthier lives for longer, in their own homes – something TSA identified in its joint commission with the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services earlier this year.”
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