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Digital Transformation – the latest buzzword in Social Care?

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It feels like I hear the words “Digital Transformation” everywhere in the last year or so. This is perhaps unsurprising given that the social care reform white paper commits “at least £150 million of new funding to deliver a programme of digital transformation” over the next 3 years. However, buzzwords and jargon phrases can sometimes feel meaningless so I feel like it would be useful to talk about what digital transformation actually means for social care and what’s happening already.

When I think about Digital Transformation, I believe it means how we use technology, both now and in the future, to change the way that we provide care. Whether this means reducing administrative burden or using technology to support people to be independent at home. At Digital Social Care, we believe that we should think about outcomes first, and technology second rather than introducing technology for its own sake. When we keep people at the heart of everything we do, we can transform lives and experiences rather than digitising the status quo.

We have worked with CASPA (the Care Software Providers Association) to launch a North Star for Digital Transformation. This North Star includes 5 core principles for digitisation in the social care sector. We believe that technology should be:

  • Focussed on each person receiving care
  • Intuitively integrated in the operational workflow
  • A time saver and not lead to duplication of effort
  • Able to share information and report appropriately
  • Inclusive of social care providers and people receiving care in decision-making processes

It is an exciting time for technology in our sector with step forwards happening all of the time. This includes companies like Invatech Health whose Atlas eMar product, an electronic medication administration record, is now able to integrate directly with GP surgeries, pharmacies and care organisations. Research from Cardiff University has shown that using an eMAR product like Atlas can facilitate safer delegation of medication dispensation from nurses to carers.

A growing area of digital transformation is the adoption of electronic care planning systems, sometimes called digital social care record systems. There are a huge number of products on the market and it can be difficult to decide which one to choose. This is why the Assured Supplier List can really help care organisations with making this choice. Digital Care Records Systems which are accredited on this list have passed rigorous selection criteria to ensure they can deliver against the national specification, their solution meets core capabilities and their financial position is stable. They are also able to integrate directly with NHS systems. This has been an exciting step forward with everyLIFE Technologies, Nourish Care and Person Centred Software now all able to provide integrated access to GP Connect. This means that Registered Managers, nurses and carers in social care organisations can now have access directly to the GP record for the people they support. Improving the speed in which they can access vital information, as well as the quality of the information available.

There are so many digital transformation projects happening in the social care sector and this is only going to continue as we see the benefits technology can bring. As long as we continue to think about how technology can support better outcomes for people, the future looks bright.

Katie Thorn – the Digital Engagement Manager at the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) and project manager for Digital Social Care

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