Opinion: Integration will be a key focus for social care in 2024

Steve Sawyer, Managing Director at Access Health, Support and Care, voices what he believes needs to be a priority this year. 

The social care sector in the UK faces a myriad of challenges, including issues of capacity, cost, and complexity. Despite advancements in technology, there remains a digital divide in the sector, leading to inefficient, admin-heavy processes. This is particularly concerning given the increasing demand for social care services, constrained budgets, and ongoing staffing challenges.

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Digitalisation, Innovation, and Integration

As we look forward to 2024, the focus should be on driving digitalisation, innovation, and integration within the social care sector.

Digitalisation can streamline processes, reduce administrative burdens, and enhance service delivery. For example, digital commissioning systems can reduce the time and resources spent on delivering homecare services. West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board has been able to reduce the amount of time taken to deliver homecare services by 35% using our digital commissioning system, Access Adam.

Innovation, particularly in the realm of digital social prescribing, offers the potential for a more personalised approach and the opportunity for staff to dedicate more time to individual care. This approach not only improves the quality of care but also enhances the efficiency of service delivery. By enabling digital social prescribing with Access Elemental, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust was able to achieve a 17% reduction in GP attendances, with these individuals directed to a more suitable service.

Integration is a crucial aspect of the future vision for social care. The sector should aim to view care not as a linear pathway but as a continuum, recognising that individuals may require support at various points simultaneously. Our Rio EPR allows for integration into existing public health services to allow for more efficient and timely health visits, supporting overall population health. By leveraging digital tools and innovative approaches, we can create a more interconnected and responsive care system.

Industry Predictions for 2024

Based on current trends and the impetus provided by the government’s funding, several predictions can be made for the social care sector in 2024:

1. Widespread digital adoption: A significant increase in the adoption of digital technologies across the social care sector is expected, including the use of digital care records and telehealth services.

2. Enhanced Integration with Healthcare Services: The integration of health and social care services is likely to deepen, leading to more coordinated and efficient care delivery, improving patient outcomes.

3. Focus on preventative care: With the integration of digital tools and a holistic approach to care, there will likely be a greater emphasis on preventative measures, improving individual health outcomes and reducing long-term demand on social care services.

4. Cost savings and efficiency gains: The combination of digitalisation, innovation, and integration is expected to result in significant cost savings and efficiency gains, evident in reduced administrative burdens and more effective resource allocation.

5. Challenges in implementation: Despite the optimistic outlook, challenges in ensuring equitable access to digital tools and managing the transition for both care providers and recipients will likely persist.

Image: ‘My Life Through A Lens’

More features: 

Virtual communication: does it have a future in adult social care?

New frameworks, policies and tech potentials for home care in 2024


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