The first four transformational projects to benefit from the government’s Adult Social Care Technology Fund have been awarded a combined total of over £3 million to improve the use of digital technology in the adult social care sector.
The funding has been allocated to help identify care-focused tech solutions that have the potential for a wider rollout across the sector.
The aim is to recognise new digital tech solutions that can help improve the independence of people under adult social care, to increase care quality and safety and to reduce avoidable hospital admissions.
The four projects to gain funding are:
· National Care Group, who received £349,234, for an electronic medication administration record system to improve the quality of medication management and recording, and to promote independence in taking medication.
· Shropshire Council, who received £1,191,597, in partnership with Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin ICB. The money will be used to embed technology in people’s homes alongside a virtual care delivery service.
· Reading Borough Council, in partnership with Henley Business School, who received £1,085,505. It will trial sensor technology to understand the benefits, with the overall aim of supporting people to live sustained or increased independence.
· Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board, with the University of Manchester and partners, who received £378,113. The money will be used to deliver a project studying the effectiveness and cost-efficiencies of using a digital falls prevention programme for older people.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said: “We are also investing in digital care records to join up care and reduce the burden of admin on staff.
“I look forward to seeing these projects develop and scale up the use of technology in social care, better meeting people’s care needs and helping us build a sustainable care system.”
The programme is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and delivered in partnership with NHS England. It is part of the government’s 10-year vision for the sector, as outlined in the white paper People at the Heart of Care.
Effort to digitise the care sector
The fund was first launched in 2023 in a bid to digitise the care sector, where just 55% of regulated care providers have a digital care planning system in place. Yet despite this, there is scepticism that the funding fails to go far enough.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers, the membership organisation for the NHS hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services that treat patients and service users in the NHS, said: “Adult social care is significantly hampered by varied digital capacity and outdated technology.
“Better investment in technology and digital allows for the delivery of more person-centred care in the community, which benefits patients, staff and system flow.
“However, we are concerned that £3million will not be sufficient to tackle some of the key digital challenges in the sector, including the need to improve data sharing between social care and the NHS, as well as training for staff to deliver care through new digital tools.
“We wait to see the impact of these initiatives and hope that dedicated funding will be more widely available in future.”
The government have been committed to boost innovation and growth in healthcare and improve patient safety, evident in October of 2022 when it announced more than £800m of funding for the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).