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Why digital is the direction of travel for adult social care

Sixty per cent of senior leaders in social care say information on vulnerable adults is being recorded at the point of contact – or will be within two years

This figure is from a recent 'Workforce efficiency and productivity survey', conducted by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) on behalf of Capita One, which explored some of the key issues currently having an impact on the sector.

And it’s a figure that really stood out for me – and, of those who stated that this was not yet the case, 36% said that their authorities were in the process of introducing it, suggesting that the direction of travel for adult social care is increasingly a digital one.

Citizen-centred services

More of us than ever before live our lives online – from shopping to managing our money or booking our holidays. So, we naturally expect to interact with our council in the same way.

As the population ages, and demand rises, could this trend be set to continue in the changing world of adult social care?

Aside from meeting citizens’ changing expectations, a digital approach can support local authorities in driving efficiency and improving the experience of the vulnerable individuals and families that social workers come into contact with.

Improving the experience of social care

When questioned on the benefits of using technology in adult social care, nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents to the ADASS survey said that the greatest impact would be in enabling more effective mobile working.

Technology needs to support social workers in working smarter so they can spend less time tied to their desk and more time with families. Tools that allow a social worker to record information whilst they are assessing the needs of a vulnerable citizen or family, rather than having to key data in when they return to the office, can make a real difference. But the tools they use can have an impact on the experience of the service user too.

Social workers have told us that often they would opt to use a tablet to record information when they are sitting with a family, as a laptop can create a physical barrier between them and the people they are there to help.  

The right technology can draw people together and help ensure the voices of the individual needing care as well as their families can be heard. This, in turn, can make it easier for teams to work closer with them to put the most appropriate package of care in place quickly. The survey results backed this up, with 56% of senior leaders in adult social care stating that they felt technology would bring the greatest benefit to multi-agency working.

Breaking down barriers

Tools that support more collaborative working seem to be the way of the future for adult social care, but 62% of senior leaders who answered the survey said that a lack of staff technical skills was the greatest barrier to introducing new technology. Putting more effective training in place could be one way to address this issue.

But in my view, to truly support adult social care in moving to a more digital age, the focus should be on challenging suppliers to develop tools that are well designed and intuitive for practitioners to use across different platforms. That way they will be able to work more effectively together to ensure our most vulnerable citizens get the help they need to remain independent, for longer.

This article was first published by Capita One.

Photo of Mark Raeburn

Mark Raeburn

Managing director, Capita One

Mark is passionate about using technology to help improve outcomes for children, young people and families, with a particular interest in delivering solutions that support early intervention and prevention. He brings a wealth of experience from a career in technology and data analytics, using this experience to help local authorities respond to the needs of their communities effectively.

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