technology in many areas of life, when it comes to intertwining digital with care as a matter of course – so that services are more preventative, personalised, joined- up and data-driven - we are still in the foothills of the journey, particularly in the residential care sector. There are pockets of better practice

but many providers use technology sporadically. They may struggle with poor internet connections, a lack of staff confidence, low levels of knowledge about different solutions and a nervousness around data protection. When digital systems are used, they

often operate in isolation. Real time data is rarely gathered and acted on, often due to the absence of any platform or collaborative tools that allow busy care workers to share information easily with health and social care teams. Unlike grab rails or physio sessions,

technology is not yet seen as a mainstream intervention that can support residents. It is still viewed by many as ‘nice to have’ rather than core to the daily operations of a care home.

Turning peripheral into core I know this reality all too well having helped to set up a commission exploring how technology can be truly integrated into social care. Set up by ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) and TSA (TEC Services Association), the commission has listened to evidence from almost 60 people, including individuals and their relatives who access social care support, front line care

professionals, directors of adult social care, housing and health leaders and technology suppliers. We have heard about some inspiring

local initiatives, showing how technology can be used to shape care services around people and their families, putting power into their hands. Yet these are in the minority - they are not commonplace – and, in its final report, the commission concluded that the majority of care providers and councils are not using available technology within social care to keep people safe, happy and healthy.1 So, how can we bring about change?

The ADASS/TSA Commission set out to identify barriers and levers but also to make practical recommendations on how to spread technologically-driven approaches to social care at pace and

scale. We are calling on the government to fund a two-year programme of ten social care innovation projects to begin that process of normalising the use of digital within social care. Best practice from this proposed

‘Personalised Care Innovation Programme’ will then be rolled out to care providers and local authority adult social care services in England to create a national, digitally-enabled social care system. The commission recommends that multi-year funding from central government is needed for this countrywide deployment. We are also urging the government

to urgently invest £450m to replace current care and housing technology infrastructure, much of which is outdated and reliant on analogue phone lines. Another recommendation centres

on personalisation. We believe that care providers, local authority commissioners and technology manufacturers must involve people, their families and carers much more in the design and co- production of digital social care services and technology. In the commission’s report, we call

on care providers and directors of adult social care to make their services more proactive and preventative by collaborating with manufacturers, so that data from apps and devices can be used by the social care workforce to identify people with needs and put solutions in place before they reach a crisis. The commission also recommends

that, by 2025, NHSX - created to drive the digital transformation of care - should enable every person in England to control

June 2021 • 15

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