NHS Digital has awarded £784,000 to the members of the Care Provider Alliance to deliver a new sector led service to offer digital support for social care providers.
It said that from now until March 2021, the members of the alliance will work on understanding current levels of digital maturity in the sector, while encouraging care providers to make more use of digital technology to support integrated care.
The Care Provider Alliance is made up of the 10 main national associations of independent and voluntary adult social care providers in England, working to represent the sector and ensure a coordinated response to major issues.
One of its priorities will be to engage with providers to develop national guidance on a range of issues, which will set the foundations for open digital standards within the social care sector. This will include the development of a core set of requirements for care providers to use when procuring new IT systems, as well as best practice for managing suppliers.
NHS Digital’s director of primary care and social care Nic Fox said: “Enabling information to be shared safely and securely between the NHS, local government and social care providers has the potential to really improve standards of care and the way that care is delivered.
“It’s really important to stress that the work being done here is by the sector, for the sector, which will help to move the digital standards conversation forward within the care provider community.”
Driving the agenda
Ian Turner, chairman of the Registered Nursing Home Association and representing the Care Provider Alliance, emphasised that the work will be done in collaboration with the social care sector, enabling it to drive the agenda.
The move follows NHS Digital’s allocation earlier this year, in collaboration with the Local Government Association, of funds to support 12 councils running pilots of digital technology in social care. Under the Social Care Digital Innovation Programme they are looking at how different technologies can be used to help people in need of support.