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Councils win funds for digital in social care projects


Money from NHS Digital and LGA to support a dozen initiatives through discovery phase

NHS Digital and the Local Government Association (LGA) have allocated £20,000 each to 12 councils to run a discovery phase on projects for using digital technology in helping people access social care and improve services.

Running under the Social Care Digital Innovation Programme (SCDIP), the scoping proposals range from how biometric technology might be used to assist people with learning disabilities and autism in the Wirral to how skills passports might help the social care workforce streamline employment checks and statutory training between providers in the London Borough of Havering.

The 12 councils have been picked from 80 that applied for funding. Their bids were based on efficiency and strengths based approaches, managing markets commissioning, and sustainable and integrated social care and health systems.

James Palmer (pictured), programme lead for the Social Care Programme at NHS Digital, said: “This funding will give the local authorities a chance to identify and investigate a local problem before testing out a potential solution.

“They will be sharing their experiences from the pilot projects, adding to our collective knowledge of how digital can effectively be used to support the delivery of adult social care.”

The 12 projects cover a range of plans:

  • Bracknell Forest Council – Making it easier for people to navigate websites and connect to community initiatives.
  • Lincolnshire County Council – Exploring a digital self-service approach to financial assessment processes.
  • South Tyneside Council – To improve communications and solutions for users with learning disabilities and/or autism.
  • Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council – Helping people with autism develop their own solutions through digital. The project will also explore the role of biometric technology to pre-empt care needs.
  • London Borough of Haringey – Increasing the role of assistive technology in care plans.
  • London Borough of Havering – Exploring the portability of recruitment checks to deal with recruitment and retention problems in the care market.
  • Nottingham City Council – Looking at behaviour change for a new outcome focused model for services supporting adults with learning disabilities.
  • Shropshire Council – Using predictive analytics, machine learning and data modelling to understand demand for services and inform commissioning plans.
  • Cambridgeshire County Council – Developing a digital offer for medicine management support.
  • Isle of Wight Council – Exploring public attitudes to robotics in care.
  • Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council – Using assistive technology to support people in their homes.
  • Sunderland City Council – Developing a scorecard to assess the effectiveness of assistive technology and designing a platform to present the data.

Ed Humphrey, lead of the LGA’s Care and Health programme, told the UKAuthority Digital Health and Care conference that the work on the discovery service and design phase for each project is set to run from next month until September, following which six will be selected for implementation. The implementation work will then run from November to March.

“The point is we don’t people in care teams to see digital as a ‘nice to have’ add-on,” he said. “It has to be part of solving the problems they have.”

He added that it could emerge for some projects that the solutions are more in changes of process than the adoption of a digital technology.

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