Not enough local authorities or care providers are using digital technology to improve care outcomes, a new report has found.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and TEC Services Association (TSA) report found pockets of best practice but concluded that projects were rarely joined up and turned into intelligences to prevent people reaching a crisis.
Iain MacBeath, Strategic Director of Health and Wellbeing at City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council and ADASS Honorary Treasurer, said: “Truly integrating technology with adult social care has eluded most parts of the country. There are some shining examples, but it’s rarely connected or proactive.
“This Commission has sought to understand why this is and how we can change it. We are recommending that new, digital skills should be brought into councils, different tender specifications must be used, and that the Government future-proofs technology infrastructure through proper investment.”
The Commission called on Government to fund a two-year programme of 10 social care innovation projects to begin the process of normalising the use of digital within social care.
It also urged Government to urgently invest £450m to replace current care and housing technology infrastructure, much of which was outdated and reliant on analogue phonelines.
It recommended that council commissioners involve people, their families and carers much more in the design and co-production of digital social care services and urged suppliers to work more closely with individuals when designing support apps and devices.
The Commission also recommended that, by 2025, NHSX should enable every person in England to control their own health and social care records. It also called on the Government to work in partnership to develop a Digital Inclusion Plan by 2022, ensuring no-one is excluded from digital social care because of low confidence around technology or a lack of access to equipment or a stable internet connection.
Major gaps in the digital skills of care professionals were outlined in the report, with a request that Government included digital literacy and data sharing training in its future social care workforce strategy. The report also asked Government to encourage health and care organisations to share data more, re-balancing the perceived risks around data protection.
In addition, the Commission recommended that the new NHS structure of Integrated Care Systems considered digital social care provision as well as digital health provision.