Social Care Digital Innovation Programme

The LGA in collaboration with NHS Digital grant funded digital innovation in social care. In 2019-21, 12 councils were selected for the third wave of funding, with six progressing to implementation. Find out more about the 49 projects funded across all four years.

We know digital technology can help people live healthy, independent lives and enable health and social care services to be more effective, personalised and efficient.

Innovation with NHS Digital

Through collaboration and funding from NHS Digital as part of their five-year Social Care Programme, we delivered funding and support to 49 projects involving 69 council teams across England to develop and share new digital approaches and technologies in adult social care.

The Social Care Digital Innovation Programme provided over £1m funding for local authorities to use technology to respond to adult social care challenges in their area and the Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator Programme provided over £470,000 for co-funded and collaborative digital projects of common and shared interest.

Meeting social care needs

All projects aimed to meet the needs of people, care providers and professionals while working in partnership with technology suppliers. Though the Covid-19 pandemic brought many challenges, project teams adapted to the changing circumstances so that digital tools could continue to support people effectively.

Improved outcomes and financial benefits

Throughout the implementation phase, each council has evaluated the actual and forecasted cash, non-cash, and quality benefits of their digital solution. Several common benefits have been identified:

  • Increased service user and carer satisfaction
  • Increased independence for people
  • Reduced hospital admissions
  • Savings in the use of health and social care staff time and resources
  • More sustainable health and care system due to decreased service dependence
  • Reduced digital exclusion

Making a difference to social care

Digital services have been developed and implemented collaborating with service users, health care professionals, and local councils. These online services support people's care needs from initial assessment and care planning, to ongoing support.

These digital tools have given people more independence, made tasks for care professionals easier, and delivered long-term value for councils through cash savings and indirect non-cash benefits.

While many services have involved creating bespoke new apps and websites accessible via laptops or mobiles, in other cases making better use of existing technologies and rethinking how to use these better has delivered valuable benefits.

Case studies

Improving assessment for home adaptions using smartphones

Giving adults with learning disabilities more independence through online resources

Helping people with daily travel with digital maps

Preventing falls in the community with safe steps mobile app

Using data mapping to inform health care decisions

Taking the strain with cobots in care

Improving hydration for care home residents

Online care plans give people more control

Online self-service financial assessment for social care


Over the last two years NHS Digital has funded 31 councils to provide digital solutions to social care challenges. In 2017-18 we saw Amazon Alexa introduced in Hampshire to reduce isolation and enhance independence; Luton and Central Bedfordshire improved the digital maturity of care homes and Norfolk increased referrals from customer services to appropriate voluntary sector support. In 2018-19 Nottingham is exploring an outcomes portal, Isle of Wight is testing exoskeletal devices for informal carers and Wirral is investing in biometric wearables to better understand support for people with autism.

In 2019-21 12 more councils will use the principles of service design to develop genuinely new ideas to improve social care, seeking innovative uses of digital technology in service design to improve the service user’s experience and/or enable better service planning and commissioning.

The Programme

The 2019-21 programme aims to:

  • use principles of service design to address social care problems differently
  • develop collaborative, innovative and person-led solutions to social care problems
  • measure the benefits, share learning and practice to encourage wider action.

Up to £120,000 funding is split into two phases: a discovery phase (April to September 2019) and an implementation phase (December 2019 to December 2020). During the discovery phase, councils will be supported to research and understand the needs, behaviours and experiences of users (social care service users, informal carers, social care providers, health partners and the voluntary sector. Councils will be supported on this journey by Snook, a design agency. Councils are expected to bring local partners through the discovery phase to develop a detailed proposal for the implementation phase.

Discovery phase

Cambridgeshire County Council
Enhancing the independence of those with learning disabilities in the community during their transition to adult social care.

Cambridgeshire Progress Report - July 2019

Cambridgeshire Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

Cambridgeshire Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

London Borough of Camden
Using technology to provide travel assistance and establish long term independent travel

Camden Progress Report - July 2019 

Camden Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

Camden Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

Derbyshire County Council
Designing and testing a remote assessment process for some adaptations in domestic environments

Derbyshire Progress Report - July 2019 

Derbyshire Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

Derbyshire Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

Essex County Council
Exploring real-time prediction and/or monitoring of falls testing technology used in other fields 

Essex Progress Report - July 2019 

Essex Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

Essex Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

Kirklees Council
Providing direct citizen access to real-time information held about care needs and services

Kirklees Progress Report - July 2019 

Kirklees Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

Kirklees Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

Leeds City Council
Digitally integrating care homes into the health and care system to ensure personalised, joined up care 

Leeds Progress Report - July 2019  

Leeds Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

Leeds Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

Newcastle City Council
Exploring how community equipment provided at the right time to maximise independence 

Newcastle Progress Report - July 2019  

Newcastle Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

Newcastle Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

Norfolk County Council
A new process for booking and allocating appointments for social workers, care managers and therapists 

Norfolk Progress Report - July 2019  

Norfolk Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

Norfolk Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

North East Lincolnshire Council
Improving home care communications, rostering, tracking of visits, outcomes and costs 

NE Lincolnshire Progress Report - July 2019 

NE Lincolnshire Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

NE Lincolnshire Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

North Somerset Council
Using technology to support identifying and proactively manage hydration in care homes 

North Somerset Progress Report - July 2019 

North Somerset Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

North Somerset Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

Richmond and Wandsworth Councils
Identifying informal carers and developing awareness of the local offer of support and services

Richmond and Wandsworth Progress Report - July 2019 

Richmond and Wandsworth Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

Richmond and Wandsworth Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

London Borough of Southwark
Exploring better management and prevention of falls

Southwark Progress Report - July 2019 

Southwark Discovery Phase Review - October 2019

Southwark Discovery Phase Case Study - November 2019

Implementation phase

SCDIP councils have made considerable progress with implementation even while managing and responding to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Their June progress reports and November sharing the learning presentations can be viewed below:

These councils continue to receive expert service design support from Snook and benefits evaluation and realisation support from RSM and NHS Digital as their projects progress. All funded projects are due to complete in March 2021.

The Accelerator

In 2019/20, three projects sought partner councils to help co-fund and co-develop a collaborative digital solution to the following areas across social care with programme partner CC2i:

  • a people and partnership-centred approach to the new Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) legislation
  • multi-agency domiciliary care medicine support
  • home assessments virtual reality app: Think ‘Ikea Place’ for Adult Social Care.

The first two projects each attracted five partner councils and discovery reports for the LPS and medicine support projects were published. For medicines support in domiciliary care, a peer reviewed stakeholder specification, which outlines the requirements and benefits of a digital approach, and a short video to support council commissioners and care providers make the case for investment in digital solutions have now been developed. These will shortly be published on Digital Social Care.

The SCDIA 2020/21 programme has commenced and councils are co-funding and co-developing digital projects focused on discharge to assess, virtual support for vulnerable people, and multi-agency safeguarding.

Further information

If any of the projects could be of interest to your authority, please get in touch. For more information or if you have any queries please contact [email protected].