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What is digitisation in Social Care?

Daniel Casson, Care England’s adviser on digital transformation, discusses how advances in digital tech could impact the social care sector.

I am curating the Laing Buisson Digital Care Tech conference 21 in March. As well as being a plug for the event, this article feels like one where I can start to think about the whole gamut of digitisation in care. What does that phrase mean for you? What’s your angle?

At the beginning of the process, we stated that we wanted the conference to focus on things which would give people practical information about care. Before settling on an agenda, we tried to consider the subject from many different angles.

I spoke to some Care England members about what they would like to see in a practical, pragmatic down to earth conference; yet however many different angles we viewed, it was clear that in every preparatory conversation there was always another angle to consider, another view of what digitisation in care meant.

Issues came up, such as:

  • Which comes first – innovation or cybersecurity?
  • Can care tech be developed without care organizations having the digital infrastructure around them to ensure the care tech has the best opportunity to function?
  • How much can remote monitoring (both clinical and environmental) be used to help us be more efficient while remaining a person-focused service?
  • Is it too soon to be talking about AI and Machine Learning?
  • Shouldn’t we focus on the basics before dreaming?
  • Is remote monitoring about environmental monitoring or clinical monitoring? Which is more effective?

There is just no way to cover all the angles and all the bases so we had to settle on an agenda which brought in as many inspirational people as possible.

However, we also wanted people who could bring things down to a practical pragmatic level. The roster of speakers is great, so I would encourage you to attend. Even if your particular angle isn’t covered there will be a lot to digest.

Do you agree that this should be the focus of their efforts? Do you think it is beneficial to progress the care side without necessarily ensuring that the digital infrastructure is in place first?

So what is your angle?

My angle is this.

I have been working with NHSX on the roll-out of the 11,000 iPads they made available to the sector. There was plenty of people who thought that money could be better spent on other infrastructure projects.

However, the feedback coming back is that the iPads have been gratefully received and are evidence that NHSX is serious about working with social care.

Its commitment to social care is potentially a double-edged sword. The realisation that they need to provide the infrastructure and guide the digitisation of the sector is to be welcomed.

On the other hand, we in social care are a proud lot, and so it is our responsibility to ensure that what is proposed allows us to retain our independence: we just need the right infrastructure, the right environment and the correct funding to flourish as part of an integrated health and wellbeing system.

Part of the journey has to be forging equality between health and care, working closely with our colleagues in housing and in population health. The advances in digital tech give us and the system the tools to achieve that integration.

That’s my angle. What’s yours?

Photo Credit – Peter Kindersley

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