The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across all sectors, including social care. Demand, uptake, and public engagement with digital technology are at an all-time high and many are already experiencing the benefits to improve the quality of care.
Currently, England’s social care system is facing many challenges; the workforce crisis, chronic funding, and the constant battle to keep up with the increasing amount of vulnerable people in need of care are all putting a huge strain on the industry. Implementation of the right technology could have a positive impact on care quality and the industry.
We’ve gone from a very huge paper-based care governance committee report to a point where the first part of every meeting is me putting up Radar Healthcare on the screen and going through the last quarter – that’s been really helpful.
Aaron Whitehead, Director - Residential Care, Care South
PPP’s research begins by highlighting how digital transformation across the adult sector is happening at a rapid pace. Since the start of the pandemic care organisations and services have been quickly adopting a range of technology to help ease day-to-day challenges and pressures, whilst improving the quality of care delivered.
Digital social care recording (DSCR) systems have been widely implemented to document and store care information electronically, replacing traditional paper records. DSCRs, alongside other transformative, assistive, and supportive technology, allow teams to have better oversight and control of data and processes, promoting safer outcomes as well as making it easier to evidence better care for regulating bodies.
Although research shows that digital is being widely adopted across the sector, many care homes and providers are still opting for traditional methods. The report reveals that less than half (45%) of adult social care providers use any form of DSCRs, whilst over 60% of care homes are using internet connections that will not support full digital transformation. 40% of social care providers have digitalised their processes fully, with the remainder using either full paper-based methods or a combination of the two.
Current government plans laid out in the Data Saves Lives strategy for health and social care, state that by March 2024, at least 80% of social care providers should have a digital care recording in place that will be able to connect to a Shared Care Record (ShCR). The Digital Social Care Records programme at the NHS Transformation Directorate (NHSTD) expects this number to be 60% by March 2023.
Being able to use data analytics to give us a real-time view and get ahead of the curve when it comes to something that could become an issue in one of our care homes will be a real benefit to our organisation.
Antony Hall, Director of Insights, Assurance and Governance, HC-One
How could digital technology positively impact your workforce?
As previously mentioned, the care industry is currently undergoing a workforce crisis. Burnout and churn rates are at an all-time high. Digital technology has the potential to support the social care workforce day-to-day and improve the quality-of-care provision.
By automating various time-intensive processes such as monitoring and data recording, technology can reduce time spent on administrative tasks as well as reduce errors and duplications, allowing carers to spend more time doing what they do best – caring.
Advanced technology can also help improve communication across organisations by increasing opportunities for collaboration and to have better oversight and involvement in what is happening.
PPP’s research also revealed that there are many inconsistencies in digital capabilities and a lack of confidence within the care industry. Care workers have been reported to be apprehensive about embracing modern technology due to a lack of knowledge or the right support available. A report by Hft revealed that 56% of care providers report that a lack of digital skills among staff was a barrier to digital uptake.
It is important that care providers ensure that any technology implemented in their workplace does not create an additional burden to care workers.
First, choosing the right technology is essential. Go back to basics and break down the problems to fully understand what it is you are trying to achieve or overcome, and then choose a supplier based on that.
It is important to choose software that is designed with end-users in mind. Advanced software, like Radar Healthcare, has been designed to be tailored to partners’ needs, offering flexible and interconnecting modules, as well as constant support, and has a very user-friendly interface. Complex technology could potentially disengage teams from the technology entirely.
The Digital Social Care Advisory Group (DSCAG) of NHS England, a group comprised of key stakeholders within the care sector to encourage open communication between all the people within the sector, has recommended that a clear set of standards must be provided to all technology providers in the social care sector which promotes co-production and good user experience.
A simple solution for smoother implementation of technology into adult social care is properly educating your workforce. By ensuring that the teams using the technology have been told why the decision has been made to implement it, educated on the benefits, and shown how to get the most out of it, you are maximising the chances of success.
As well as providing plenty of information, giving support and training opportunities is equally important. Providing training on everything from data analysis to the ability to install programmes and other more complex tasks is super important for increasing confidence and driving positive outcomes.
Radar Healthcare supports us in making our processes smoother, seamless and more efficient, allowing us to drive up our safety and governance standards, as well as gather data that helps us innovate and adapt. But ultimately it's the human connection that is at the heart of our digitisation. Technology makes such a difference to the lives of our residents and also frees up our people to do what they're passionate about - caring.
Rebecca Pearson, General Manager, Care Services, Bupa Global & UK
It is evident that the health and social care sector is quickly turning digital – and starting to introduce technology into your organisation and service, sooner rather than later, is an opportunity that the industry cannot afford to miss.
PPP’s report emphasises how imperative it is that care providers, technology providers, local authorities, and social care professionals come together and collaborate to design and implement the most appropriate technology for every person accessing care.
“Much positive work is already being done to ensure the effective implementation of technology into care settings, to improve the lives and experiences of end users. This work must be built upon and rolled out within each ICS in order that all can benefit from the available technology.” (Quote taken directly from the report.)
Learn more by reading the full A Care System for the future: how digital development can transform adult social care report
Public Policy Projects (PPP) is an independent policy institute offering practical analysis and development across a range of sectors, including health and social care. They publish annual Insights and Global Insights reports in a series of policy areas, including integrated care, social care, genomics, rare diseases, women’s health, health inequalities, environment, and energy.