New digital funding for social care to support integration in England
NHS Digital has awarded £793,000 to the Care Provider Alliance to develop new digital services for social care providers.
The new sector-led service will work with providers to develop guidance on prevalent issues, setting the foundations for a new set of digital standards for the sector, including requirements for the procurement of new systems and best practice for managing suppliers.
Members of the Alliance, which is made up of the ten main national associations representing independent and voluntary adult social care providers in England, will investigate ‘current levels of digital maturity’ and assess where further adoption of new technologies can be made to support the integration of services.
Ian Turner, Chairman of the Registered Nursing Home Association, commented: “Safe and efficient information sharing has the potential to really transform the way care is delivered in the social care sector."
Alongside assessing the current application of digital services in the sector, the funds will be used to encourage the uptake of existing resources. “What’s also really positive is the fact that all of the work will be done in collaboration with the social care sector, enabling the sector to drive the agenda,” added Mr Turner.
What does this mean for integrated care?
Nic Fox, NHS Digital’s Director of Primary Care & Social Care, said: “Enabling information to be shared safely and securely between the NHS, local government and social care providers has the potential to really improve standards of care and the way that care is delivered. ”
This falls in line with the agenda set out by Simon Stevens and NHS England to develop integrated systems of care that transcend siloed fractures in the broader health and care system. However, issues relating to data standardisation, security and regulation still present significant barriers to the adoption of new services and ways of working.
While this presents massive opportunities for the sector in the long-term, social care services face extreme financial and workforce pressures which may obstruct the rate at which digital adoption takes place.