"Like so many other innovators (they are) trying to win hearts and minds over to the idea of technology as an enabler of the workforce, not as a substitute for them."
In an open letter to the Prime Minister last week, politicians and leading care organisations called for social care to have its “1948 moment”.
Whether the government’s long-awaited reforms for the sector, when and if they finally come, will prove to be a pivotal moment comparable to the birth of the NHS on July 5 1948, remains to be seen.
But for us at Future Care Capital one of the keys to unlocking the whole conundrum is unleashing the potential of technology.
Others must resolve the social care funding question but, at FCC, our research and influencing positions us well to raise the debate and make an impact around the future of the social care workforce, both in terms of the professionals and the unpaid carers. They are such a huge piece of the social care jigsaw,
Through our research we have already explored and published new thinking around technology linked to the workforce. We’re having a number of conversations about innovative ways that commissioners and local authorities can work with policymakers and providers to embed new technology that can help save hours of staff time.
One project we are interested in – which is being piloted in the South West – focuses on wound care. For example, one of the three pilot sites, Torbay, has 75 community nursing staff visiting patients to dress wounds, plus 650 domiciliary care workers who are visiting many of the same people and washing and creaming the same legs
But because of the way the system is set up a nurse has to see the patient for the final dressing.
So you have 75 nurses driving all over the county spending thousands of hours on work that domiciliary care staff could be doing, with the right training and support.
And one way that support can be provided is through a new technological solution currently being trialled in the area. It’s an exciting development as we’re talking about acute technology migrating to community settings.
Now using technology to drive up efficiency and quality is one of the areas we are researching and exploring from a practical perspective, here at FCC. So the question is, to what extent will the government consider the role of technology when they publish their plan for social care? Earlier this year we saw the Integration and Innovation White Paper setting out the government’s plans for the Health and Care Bill, which was rather lacking when it came to substance about technology
So what will help the government in its engagement with organisations like FCC – and others – to try and make the best use of the resources available?
Of course, there is much FCC and others can add to the debate and the research. Because those who are running the proof of concept innovative wound care scheme in Torbay are, like so many other innovators, trying to win hearts and minds over to the idea of technology as an enabler of the workforce, not as a substitute for them.
These technological innovations will only deliver when it comes to efficiency if they have people at the heart of what they are about.
So yes, we support the call for social care to have its 1948 moment in 2021. We also have our sights set on 2048 and beyond, and how the sector can embrace the opportunities afforded by the latest technological innovation. But that’s is only going to happen as long as clear action is taken now.