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DHSC pledges £150 million for tech in adult social care


The Government has promised at least £150 million in funding to support the faster take-up of digital technology in adult social care.

It has made the pledge with the publication of its white paper on its plans social care, setting out legislative proposals for its Health and Care Bill.

The move has been accompanied by NHSX setting out five themes and a series of recommendations to accelerate digital transformation in the sector.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) highlighted the spending promise as one of key elements of its plans, saying it wants technology to be used more in supporting independent living and allowing staff to provide focused care where it is needed.

It gave an example of acoustic sensors that make it possible to monitor movement by people receiving care and raising alerts if needed.

In addition, digital care records will be updated to make sure all caregivers have up-to-date details

The white paper says there is a need to support the use of digital technology and services in the move towards integrated care systems, that maximising its use will support commissioning and delivery of high quality services, and the Government wants to establish technology as a better platform to support staff and patient care.

It also points towards legislative changes to reduce bureaucracy in decision making.

Other features highlighted by DHSC are the provision of £300 million for an increase in supported housing and a new service to make changes in people’s homes, and £500 million for career development among the adult social care workforce.

Fairer and better

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.

“We are investing in our country’s future – boosting support to help people live at home with their families for longer and ensuring that health and care work hand in hand so people get the help they need.”

NHSX has outlined the steps to be taken in a report on two reviews of the technology and digital skills used and needed in the sector, emphasising their potential but also identifying general and group-specific barriers to faster take-up of the tech.

This has led it to outline the five themes to accelerate take-up as: involving end users in developing a sector-wide vision for digitising social care; develop co-produced standards and systems to support its implementation; raising knowledge of digital technologies across the sector; improving access to funding and procurement support; and defining the specific skills needed by user groups.

Its recommendations to build skills include encouraging the introduction of digital technology to the workplace irrespective of staff’s existing skills, as this can encourage their development.

Myth busting

Along with this there should be a programme of “myth busting, reassurance and culture change”, a further development of digital leadership skills, a focus on improving knowledge of information governance, and incorporating digital skills into recruitment, qualifications and career progression.

To improve the technology landscape the report calls for a national vision of a digital ecosystem in adult social care, the development of sector-wide standards and systems that involves end users, including people with care and support needs, and research into the changing technology landscape.

Along with this is a need for more support to mitigate the impacts of a fragmented customer base for care technology – reflecting that most care providers are SMEs – and more investment in digital tech.

Rachel Falconer, policy lead on skills and evidence at NHSX, said in an accompanying blogpost that the reviews have made clear there is a vital requirement to match the spreading awareness of care technology with funding and support in procurement.

“We have made a start on meeting this need, in the form of the Digital Social Care information and guidance platform, a new £8 million fund to help social care providers adopt care technologies, and support for procuring digital social care records. But we recognise there is more to do,” she said.

Learning offer

She added that in the coming months NHSX and its partners Skills for Care and Health Education England will publish a digital skills framework for the sector, then put in place a “comprehensive digital learning offer”.

The DHSC announcement also included a promise of £70 million to local authorities to improve the provision of care, an increase to the upper limit of the Disabled Facilities Grant for home adaptations including home tech, and a new national website to provide information for the public on social care.

Image from iStock, monkeybusinessimages

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