The government has highlighted the importance of using telehealth to help reform social care and provide more control to individuals and their carers.
In its new blueprint on social care, published today, the government says the technology can help provide more personalised and preventative services.
Earlier this year, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, the coalition allocated an additional £2 billion by 2014-15 to support the delivery of social care.
This included £1 billion through the NHS to be spent on measures that support social care but also benefit health.
‘A Vision for Adult Social Care: Capable Communities and Active Citizens’ sheds further light on how the £1 billion is to be taken out of the NHS budget and spent on adult social care.
It says that up to £300m a year will be spent on what it terms ‘re-ablement’ spending in the NHS, while the remainder will support either social care service.
The document states: “Using this money to find new and innovative ways to deliver social care, maintain quality and work in a more integrated way with the NHS is essential.”
It says that self evaluations from three councils indicate that adult social care departments could save at least 1.5% per year of their residential care spend by introducing integrated telecare.
It refers to North Yorkshire Council, which has embedded telecare service into its social care provision an is already saving more than £1m per year.
It adds: “Assisted living is one of most promising developments for ensuring the ageing populations continues to be well served with high quality and affordable health and care services.
“Telecare enables people to live at home independently for longer by providing technologies that make their homes more safe and secure.”
However, it calls for more “robust evidence” on how to target telecare and telehealth to ensure both cost effectiveness and successful outcomes and hopes that the evaluation of the government’s £31m whole system demonstrator programme will start to address this.
As part of its vision, which is underpinned by seven principles including prevention, personalisation, partnership, plurality, protection, productivity, people, the government recommends that councils should improve preventative services by “commissioning a full range of appropriate preventative and early intervention services such as re-ablement and telecare, working in partnership with the NHS housing authorities and others.”
The report also elaborates on themes of the The NHS white paper, ‘Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS’, which called for more joint working with social services, while giving new roles to local authorities to promote public health.
It says: “Evidence suggests that joint strategies, including a focus on reducing hospitals admissions, save resources in the NHS.”
It exemplifies Herefordshire Hospital Trust, PCT and Council who have already established a public sector joint venture to carry out shared back office services across local government and health and are already seeing considerable benefits.
Last week, the joint IT director for NHS Hertfordshire and Council told E-Health Insider that the decision to combine the IT services had already saved more than 10% of its overall budget, with a further 10% expected to come next year.
In addition, the document places significant focus on personal budgets and says it will provide up to one million adults in need of social care with personal budgets to spend on the services they think they need by 2013. This is 75% increase on the amount of people that currently receive such payments.
However, it says that “good quality, up to date and accessible information direct from the council especially on websites” needs to be provided to ensure that people have good information and real choice.