Yesterday techUK hosted an innovative roundtable on the future of social care and the role technology can play to achieve a digital and interoperable social care system.
The roundtable was held in the run up to the publication of the Green paper on Social Care by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). We put together members, as well as key representatives from DHSC and local gov to horizon scan and set a vision on the future of social care, and how we can overcome the obstacles of today to achieve the vision.
Before the discussion kicked off the Local Government Association (LGA) gave an overview of their current work in this area with a session on the main insights to their 2018 Green paper on ‘The Lives we want to lead, the future of care and support’. The report included a new digital strategy to transform social care and move towards a more person-centred model. This strategy was designed to prevent the increase of multiple patient needs through a prevention based social care system. At the roundtable the LGA noted that one of the largest challenges in improving technology within social care was to address the interoperability challenges in local councils.
The roundtable was a great chance for stakeholders to come together to create a high-level vision for social care. The DHSC hope to use the green paper as a way of changing the way we talk strategically about social care towards the prevention agenda and a user needs approach.
One of the key discussion points at the roundtable was the recent shift over to informal carers and individuals within the social care system. In order to move forward providers must understand how to work with individuals and create connectivity and interoperability within the whole system. This is essential because health and social care needs are not siloed from one another and interconnect.
It was discussed that in order to ensure providers work together we must first define interoperability standards and make sure that those on the frontline understand all the regulations. In order to implement this, funding will need to be given high priority for both a local and national level. The main vision for social care innovation is to get to a point where we can proactively take a preventive approach and enable people to live independently in their own homes. This is impossible if we cannot first share data among systems and move away from paper-based systems. From the discussion it was clear that there is confusion from the public sector on what can and can’t be shared and more will need to be done to demystify this.
It was agreed that the UK social care system needs to use best practice from other countries to solve the problem. One case study that was discussed was in Costa del Sol which has a very good interoperable system and uses one integrated system for all health and social care. There is also pockets of excellence across the UK, but the challenge is scaling-up good practice as well as setting a baseline of what good looks like.
It was agreed that at the heart of this vision social care must become more person centric, and it needed to be seamless for the end user to engage with. Furthermore, we must include the care sector and unpaid carers in future conversations on digitising the sector.
Following on from a successful roundtable techUK will be launching a social care working group and launch a vision paper. If you’d like to get involved in this please contact either Sophia Kleanthous or Georgina Maratheftis if you would like help to deliver the vision for the working group which will feature the following work streams: culture leadership, data and emerging tech in the future of social care.