NHS makes £1m available for digital social care

Written by Peter Walker

Local authorities developing digital social care projects are set to be boosted by Social Care Digital Innovation Programme (SCDIP) funding worth over £1 million.

Projects that support innovative uses of digital technology in the design and delivery of adult social care are set to share the money, provided by NHS Digital and managed by the Local Government Association.

Ten authorities will receive up to £30,000 to design a digital solution to address a specific issue with their service, with eight receiving up to a further £90,000 to support its implementation. The funding will run over two years.

A statement explained that local authority bids should focus on one of these three themes:

· Efficiency and strengths-based approaches

· Managing marketing and commission

· Sustainable and integrated social care and health systems

Previous projects funded have included exoskeleton devices to help carers on the Isle of Wight and the introduction of Amazon Alexa into people’s homes in Hampshire to combat isolation and encourage independent living.

Pam Garraway, senior responsible officer for social care at NHS Digital, said: “Every year we see some truly innovative projects that take a creative digital approach to solving the challenges that local authorities face in social care.

“We are now looking forward to seeing the exciting proposals that will come forward in response to this round of funding.”

Separately, last month the NHS Long Term Plan was published, recognising - amongst other things - the extent to which new and improved technology and digital services can enable many of the goals.

NHS Digital's chief executive Sarah Wilkinson welcomed this focus on digital technology, noting that much of the agenda was aimed that allowing patients to better manage their own health and care.

“A broad spectrum of digital services will support individuals to take a much more proactive and responsible approach to monitoring their own health and well-being, enabling them to recognise their individual health risks and symptoms as early as possible, and manage their personal response to these risks,” she stated, noting that this reduces the demand for health and care services.

“We know how challenging it can be for organisations, particularly those under constant pressure to deliver critical services, to adopt new technology and digital systems,” added Wilkinson.

“We are completely committed to supporting NHS organisations on all aspects of this journey from technical education, to integrating new technology into services and care pathways to the design of highly useable and accessible patient-facing solutions.”