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Care technology diagnostic and planning resource

The resource is a practical tool to enable councils to review their local care technology approach in a structured way and to act as a catalyst for further activity. It was developed by the Care and Health Improvement Programme in partnership with Rethink Partners and councils.

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It is intended to cater for a range of approaches - whether the ambition is to have a good quality digital care technology offer in place or if the ambition is to deliver a more transformational approach to care technology to unlock greater value and be a key driver in changing the operating model for social care – adults and / or children.

What do we mean by care technology?

Care technology involves the provision of services such as telecare (long distance monitoring of people to support them to live independently at home), assistive technology and telehealth which provides arrangements for people to manage short and long-term conditions. It can also include the use of newer technologies including video phones, data tools, self-help apps, passive monitoring technology, real-time dashboards and the wider ‘Internet of Things’ that put people in control of their own health, wellbeing and support. There is increasing interest in the data opportunity created by digital technology.

We have learnt in developing this resource that language in this area can be confused; people may use the same terms but mean different things. In this resource, we therefore use the term 'care technology' as a broader umbrella term that captures the increasing complexity and blurred lines between telecare, telehealth, assistive technology, smart equipment, consumer technology, software and smart devices.

COVID-19 support

This resource was developed before COVID-19 but its launch was paused in order to provide tailored support to councils looking at care technology to support their local COVID-19 response. Through this tailored support, we created a new rapid deployment tool to help adult social care teams plan and deploy care technology interventions safely and effectively as part of their COVID-19 response. View the COVID-19 rapid care technology deployment tool along with practical case studies from the sector.

Though the COVID-19 rapid deployment tool was designed for a specific purpose, it is still a helpful reference point for councils to validate and strengthen plans which may be underway.  

However, if councils are at the start of or want to further advance their care technology approaches, then councils may consider this resource as offering more comprehensive support which can be used for continuous care technology development and improvement.

Why has this resource been developed?

Councils across the country are increasingly looking to care technology services for more person-centred and preventative approaches to care and support which keep people independent and connected to their communities. There is the potential to significantly increase take-up as well as impact and outcomes particularly as technology moves from analogue to digital.

We have heard from our engagement with councils that there is an opportunity to provide further support to councils wanting to review and expand their care technology offer. There are some specific issues that are contributing to this need; these include:

  • This is often a new area for local authorities – particularly from a commissioning perspective – or an area where there is a sense of significant opportunity but not always deep experience or well-developed processes.
  • Many authorities have legacy arrangements – which have grown-up over time either in-house or in partner organisations like district councils or housing organisations. Whilst a council may be funding these services they are often not actively commissioned and data and understanding of need may be low.
  • There may be a care technology capability and leadership gap in social care; staff in authorities leading this work can be isolated and may not necessarily sit in social care.
  • Pace of change in the provider market and with the technology itself is high and it can be difficult to keep up to date on best in class technology and market offers.
  • Digital switchover is stimulating a number of authorities to review their arrangements
  • Care technology is an area that has been identified by directors of adult social care in the ADASS Budget Survey 2019 (PDF) for achieving financial efficiencies, and local investment in this area in recent years has been increasing.
  • There is a lack of good evidence of what works and a number of variables to consider.
  • Whilst the technology is important, increasingly authorities are delivering or purchasing a managed service and this is a shift in thinking and approach.
  • It can be a challenge to balance the ambition for transformation and high benefits realisation with risk appetite and the effort and resources of delivering transformation.

Who is this resource for?

The resource is intended for anyone who has leadership responsibility for care technology in a council. This may be a commissioner or an operational lead and may sit in adult social care or in a different area of the council. Care technology roles and responsibilities vary across councils so use the resource in a way that fits your own organisation.

Structure of the resource

The resource is structured into nine areas:

  • Strategy and commissioning
  • Leadership and resourcing
  • Governance and risk
  • Commercial and supplier management – care technology
  • Partnerships
  • Culture, skills and readiness: workforce, organisation, citizens and partners
  • Communications and engagement
  • Care technology pathways and service, digital readiness
  • Innovation and data

The resource has three stages, and we would encourage you to use it in this order, however you may skip to step two or three.

What to think about before you start

  • Who should I involve? You might consider including people from the following: adult social care operations, care technology specialists, occupational therapists, children’s social care, front door / call centre, existing providers, finance and performance lead, governance lead (data, legal, commercial), any trusted partners (NHS), prevention / public health lead, IT
  • What data and information is already available? Gather together any information and data that you have about current services, particularly volumes, cohorts, finance information, any performance data, information / learning from any pilots
  • What is our ambition for care technology services (if this is known)? It would be helpful to know at the outset whether you and your authority are looking to be ambitious and undertake a transformation programme (high effort / high reward), build a solid service foundation, or take a more incremental approach. The resource may help you clarify this – but if you know this at the outset then it will influence how you use it.
  • Are there any other existing plans, documents, strategies, information that are relevant?