It was good to hear that Local authority projects that use digital innovation to help benefit people who access adult social care can bid for share of £1 million in funding.
The funding, provided by NHS Digital and managed by the Local Government Association (LGA), with support from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Care (ADASS), will be awarded to local authorities that put forward projects that support forward-thinking uses of digital technology in the design and delivery of adult social care.
Twelve will receive £20,000 to design a digital solution to address a specific issue with their service, with six receiving up to a further £80,000 to support its implementation.
Those bidding will need to focus on one of three themes:
- efficiency and strengths-based approaches;
- managing marketing and commission; and
- sustainable and integrated social care and health systems.
Formerly known as the Local Investment Programme, the Social Care Digital Innovation Programme aims to encourage the adult social care sector to make better use of technology.
This new initiative builds upon support for the strategy advocated by the CQC who for some time have been encouraging providers to make more use of technology in the provision of care services.
James Palmer, programme lead for the social care programme at NHS Digital said: “Last year’s projects delivered inventive, forward thinking and creative solutions to local challenges in social care. They have led to successful outcomes for both services and the people who use them.
“This year, the funding will help to identify and address some key pinch points within local authority services, especially those around the integration of health and social care systems. We are looking forward to seeing the innovative solutions that councils come up with in response to our latest round of funding.”
Previous projects to have received support include home video-conferencing in Essex, voice-activated home support in Hampshire and electronic referrals for home care packages in Hampshire and electronic referrals for home care packages in Sefton and Knowsley.
Sefton and Knowsley Mayor Kate Allsop, deputy chair of the LGA’s Community and Wellbeing Board said: “We are committed to enhancing the role that information and technology can play in the commissioning and delivery of health and social care services.
“As part of this agenda we are pleased to run another funding round in collaboration with NHS Digital, to stimulate digital solutions to social care challenges at a local level.”
The closing date for applications is 4pm on 1 June.
An NHS Digital-commissioned review of the state of IT in social care revealed a myriad of challenges.
This latest initiative by NHS Digital is just one of many such funding approaches with the aim of increasing the use of technology in social care. There is little doubt that the funding crises that is affecting social care, has prevented investment in the use of technology. Many providers ae aware of the benefits that technology can bring to adult social care services but where is the money coming from to pay for it?
Those who work in the social care industry are full aware that the use of technology will play an increasingly important role in the future provision of adult social care services. We can also expect it to be included in the Governments Green Paper on the future of social care services to be published in the summer.
The offer of more funding from NHS Digital to fund specific technology projects should be welcomed. But this piecemeal approach is only scratching the surface when it comes to the technology needs of adult social care services. What is needed is a government funded worked-out strategy for the implementation and use of technology that is available to all providers and commissioners.
Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute
Bettal Quality Consultancy