£150m for digital as part of social care plan
The UK Government has released a new white paper on social care, which sets out plans for the next ten years, including new investment of £150 million for digital.
The document – ‘People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform’ – sets out aims and goals, as well as outlining the government’s 10-year vision.
In the Department of Health and Social Care publication a number of areas are covered, with a focus on the wellbeing of the workforce, empowering care receivers, unpaid carers, and families, and on supporting local authorities to deliver reforms.
The publication also includes details about the recent reforms which will address how care is paid for, through a cap on personal care costs at £86,000 and means-tested support for anyone with less than £100,000 in chargeable assets.
For digital tools and technology, there will be “at least £150 million of additional funding to drive greater adoption of technology and achieve widespread digitisation across social care” over the next three years.
This includes areas such as care-tech, to support people to live independently in their own homes, providing funding for tech ideas, to scale existing technologies and support building a case for change. The paper made note to a roadmap of priorities that will be produced with local authorities, the voluntary and community sector. However, it highlights the use of technology to prevent falls, will be an early priority.
Areas intended for funding also include support for digital social records, to provide sharing of information in real-time. The paper highlighted “only 40% of social care providers are fully digital”, and adoption of digital tools has been “slow at just 3% a year”. The paper set the target for 80% of providers to be digital by March 2024.
Upgrading infrastructure and cyber security forms part of the funding, as well as supporting and developing the digital skills of the workforce. The paper states: “Building on the findings from the recent digital skills baseline report, we will provide a comprehensive digital learning offer that includes accessible training and online resources to build transferrable digital skills as well as practical guidance on using technology in all care settings.”
In a blog post on the NHSX website, Alice Ainsworth, deputy director for adult social care technology policy, said: “We know that at least 1.7 million people in England are already using assistive technologies such as personal alarm systems to support their care and give them more choice, control, and independence. Many people also use smart devices to help them with routine tasks such as medication reminders, while sensor technologies are increasingly used to monitor movement and identify falls at home.
“The White Paper announces investment of at least £150 million over the next 3 years to rapidly drive digitisation across the sector. We recognise that adoption of technology has been challenging in social care to date, with providers lacking the resources to invest. We want today’s proposals to help change that.”