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The integration of technology into home care is far from realised

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

According to a new report, published by the TEC Action Alliance has found that only a handful of councils, housing, and care organisations are delivering digital care in people’s homes at a scale that would cut hospital admissions, speed up emergency response times, and reduce long waits for formal social care.


The report titled ‘Technology-Enabled Lives: Delivering Outcomes for People and for People and Providers ‘found that despite much evidence that concludes using technology in social care keeps people safe, healthy and happy at home, the report found no large-scale use of digital services. Although isolated examples of activity were found there is little evidence of integration within the broader spectrum of social care.


The methodology used in the report


The report involves over 30 care organisations such as are Care England, Carers UK, Housing LIN, TEC Services Association (TSA) and Think Local Act Personal (TLAP), alongside technology suppliers. It examines barriers to widespread adoption. One issue is the conflict between shaping digital care around people’s needs and replicating services, economically, at scale.


Over the past five months, the TEC Action Alliance has heard evidence from a range of people who draw on care, along with frontline workers and leaders in care and health.


Over 2,000 people were surveyed on their attitudes towards, and use of technology-enabled care (TEC) and focus groups were held with individuals who have lived experience. Research into housing associations, councils, and health bodies that use technology to integrate care services has been conducted.


Results of the study


Survey results did indicate there is a strong appetite for technology use in the social care sector – 86% said they are likely to use it in the future. However, evidence also suggested that the potential and positivity of using tech isn’t yet full realised.

Only 18% of respondents currently use telecare or telehealth services, and half use it less than once a week. Barriers include safety concerns, a lack of confidence and perceptions that digital care is expensive.


Results show that digital social care services reduce ambulance trips to A&E by 68 percent and helped 85 percent of people remain at home if emergency calls are handled by TEC responder teams.


They also cut emergency response times to 30 minutes and helped to refer two-fifths of people to community services rather than formal social care, compared to less than a tenth pre-pandemic.


Self-management of own care


Alyson Scurfield, CEO of TEC Services Association (TSA) and co-chair of the TEC Action Alliance said: “At a time of immense pressure on NHS and social care services, digital care services can put power in the hands of people, helping them to self-manage their own health and live the life they want to lead. We’ve found some pockets of good technology-enabled care but still no national adoption.

“To address this, we must understand how technology-enabled care can be better personalised and scaled.”


Clenton Farquharson MBE, Chair of Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) and co-chair of the TEC Action Alliance said: “Currently, we talk about digitising social care, health and housing: re-engineering systems and processes. What I don’t hear about are ‘technology-enabled lives’, where the ambitions and aspirations of the individual come first, made possible by digital.


The report calls on care commissioners and suppliers to listen carefully to what people want and co-produce their services and products with individuals to ensure there is an enhanced focus on personal needs.


Summary


The TEC Action Alliance Report has produced evidence of a strong interest in technology use in the social care sector, but the potential use of technology isn’t yet fully realised. Barriers include safety concerns, a lack of confidence and perceptions that digital care is expensive.


Clenton Farquharson MBE is of the opinion that the focus should move from digitising social care to ‘technology-enabled lives’, where the ambitions and aspirations of the individual come first, made possible by digital.


To achieve this the Government should make funding available for preventative technology, proactively supporting people at home rather than purely for hospital discharge. We need to rethink technology-enabled care and re-evaluate what really matters.


Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute

Managing Director

Bettal Quality Consultancy

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