The social care sector in England has faced multiple challenges over the past decade, and the pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges and highlighted the issues care providers and vulnerable people relying on care services face.
As the number of older adults needing care increases, the need for quality care services will substantially increase. High-quality care relies on high-quality information, such as an individual’s likes, care and medication requirements, and details on the care they have received. Unfortunately, for the majority of care providers, this information is locked away in paper-based social care records. As a result, carers and clinicians don’t have access to vital information when needed, which places a significant administrative burden, taking away valuable time that could be spent delivering care. The former Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, previously announced a target to get 80% of social care providers to use digital care records that interoperate with health care systems by March 2024. The digital transformation will free up time spent by care workers and managers on administrative tasks, whilst equipping them with the information they need to deliver quality care.
Improvements in healthcare and living standards mean that people in the UK are living longer – this means the number of older people living with complex health conditions is rising. Meeting these care requirements and ensuring people live comfortably and safely is becoming challenging, particularly in a social care workforce crisis.
The British Medical Association (BMA) recently published a press release stating: “Medical leaders are warning that we are facing a ‘ticking time bomb’ in social care as chronic underfunding, severe staffing shortages and a growing elderly population means that many in the future will not get the care and support they need.”
For the care sector, Brexit has already impacted the workforce and may continue to do so. As a result, care homes struggle to recruit and retain staff. These pressures affect the health and care system’s ability to deliver care across community and acute settings. However, with the help of digital systems, care providers can create streamlined processes and simplified working environments for care workers, which aids with recruitment and staff retention. However, several barriers prevent people from accessing healthcare services in our current climate. With the after-effects of the pandemic, health budgets being cut, waiting lists at a record high and poor coordination between health and social care, we have increased demand for people needing support.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though – The COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for change. It highlighted what our NHS and local government achieved when they worked together, from delivering the vaccine rollout to supporting those who were shielding.
Although care providers face all these challenges, they also face many opportunities to improve how they provide care. The new government initiative will see care providers going digital with the Digitising Social Care Records (DSCR) programme. Currently, as it stands, the NHS Transformation Directorate is providing funding of £8.2 million, to support the digitisation of social care. Going digital will help to join up health and social services, enable care to be more person-centred and accessible and ensure that nobody falls between the gaps. This instrumental move will ensure that care providers’ needs remain the primary focus. Going digital is not just about improving care for residents, it brings huge advances for care providers and their staff across England. These include:
- Save care providers an hour a day
- Help to minimise risks, such as medication errors, dehydration or missed visits
- Record real-time information about the care that is being provided
- Make it easier for care providers who use services to access their residents’ care records
- Help providers and carers to be aware when people’s needs change, and enable quick response
- Help to manage and support staff to do their job effectively and efficiently
- Offer the ability to use and compare data to improve people’s care
- Enable care notes to be easily stored, requiring less physical space
- Help information to be shared quickly, accurately and safely
- Support better use of resources across the health and care system.
Digital Social Care has been working with NHS Digital, NHS Transformation Directorate and CASPA (The Care Software Providers Association) to support the digital journey of adult social care providers in England.
Need help with going digital?
Person Centred Software, providers of the UK’s most widely used digital care system, supplies the care sector with solutions that improve residents’ care outcomes and allow care providers more time to care. From electronic care planning software to medication and visitor management systems, Person Centred Software has been transforming social care with its digital technology since 2013. Accredited by the NHS Transformation Directorate to be on the assured supplier list, Person Centred Software’s Digital Care System helps to reduce pressure on our overstretched workforce and eases the burden on primary care.
Person Centred Software’s Digital Care System integrates with other organisations to give care providers a complete ecosystem of care.
Person Centred Software’s ecosystem of care gives care providers:
- A digital record of medication
- Effective medication recording, reducing medication errors
- Provides a safe and responsive service
- All data in one place
- Improve staff efficiency
- Increase data analysis
Andrew Coles is CEO at Person Centred Software, a digital care technology pioneer. Founded in 2013 to improve the quality of life for people in social care, Person Centred Software has become an award-winning global company with over 3,000 care homes in the UK alone using their digital care management system.