NHS Digital call to help shape the future of social care IT

The national information and technology partner for the health and care system is seeking expert input from social care professionals as part of its drive to best support the sector.

NHS Digital’s call follows the completion of its first phase of major research into social care IT, which has the views of sector professionals at its centre.

The study explores how social workers currently use IT in their role and what they think can be done better to support them in the future. It is being conducted by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and market research organisation GfK.

Presented at the National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC) in Manchester, interim findings lay bare the challenges and concerns within social care.

These include a lack of interoperability between different organisations’ systems; a burden of time taken by social workers to input data, a need for more timely access to information; and the absolute requirement to user technology as an enabler rather than replacement for face-to-face engagement.

Alongside these challenges, many areas for support have been identified by the study social care professionals include:

  •  Sharing best practice examples on digital technology and innovation
  •  Developing and hosting communities of practice to facilitate peer support
  •  Providing guidance on the Data Protection Act
  •  Ensuring software and IT systems meet social workers’ requirements
  •  Developing a toolkit for social workers on digital technology, including on use of Skype, teleconferencing and audio technology.

NHS Digital will further explore these opportunities as part of the second phase of research, which will report in spring 2017.