Innovation, News

Nationwide call for innovations to support the domiciliary care workforce

Health Education England South West, the West of England Academic Health Science Network  and the South West Academic Health Science Network have put out a nationwide call for innovations that can help domiciliary care workers.

The challenge – to find proven solutions to assist the workforce – is now open to applications and is specifically seeking innovations that support supply, skills, leadership or new ways of working. These could take the form of a technology, app, service, product, toolkit or an innovative process.

According to the West of England AHSN, it is hoped successful solutions will have a ‘measurable impact on workforce indicators’. These could include helping to increase the number of domiciliary care workers, reducing sickness absence and turnover rates, or improving wellbeing, skills and confidence, leadership, productivity, and diversity and inclusion.

Nikki Taylor, Programme Manager at South West AHSN, suggested that products and processes could look at areas such as “managing staff rotas, transport and logistics, information and record sharing to training and career development” or even “mental health resources, gym memberships and peer-to-peer or employee support networks”.

West of England AHSN told HTN this is considered an ‘important challenge’ and that it was ‘casting the net far and wide’ for solutions that could ‘come from anywhere and anyone’ to assist care professionals in the area, which includes locations such as Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bristol, North East Somerset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall/Isles of Scilly.

The domiciliary care workforce includes professionals who provide care to people still living in their own homes but who require additional support to maintain their independence and quality of life.

Pressures on the workforce before the COVID-19 pandemic were already significant – with a reported 46% staff turnover rate of domiciliary social care providers in the South West alone, according to the AHSN.

It’s hoped a nationwide call for support can help improve the domiciliary care landscape, and any successful solutions will be piloted across the South West for 12 months. It is not yet confirmed how many innovations will be selected for a pilot scheme but a maximum of £100,000  will be available to share between them to support spread and adoption – and to fund innovator and host activities.

Natasha Swinscoe, CEO of the West of England AHSN, said: “The demand for the provision of health and social care within people’s own homes has never been greater, but there are very high pressures on this workforce. We need innovative solutions to help solve and support some of the wide-ranging issues in this sector and I’m excited to see what could be out there.”

Debi Reilly, South West Regional Director for Health Education England, added: “Having the right staff in place, with the right skills, is essential to ensure that domiciliary care services can operate effectively. It is demanding work, both physically and emotionally, and staff are often working remotely and in silo and under huge time pressures.

“Opportunities for training and career progression is limited. How can we better support and look after people working in domiciliary care? How can we provide more opportunity for learning and development, especially when staff are so busy?”

AHSN support for successful applicants will include a project manager for co-ordination, and an evaluation over the 12 month-pilot, which could lead to recommendations of suitability for scaling regionally or nationally.

Interested parties can find out more about submitting an innovation, or how to register interest in being a host for pilots, through the West of England AHSN website.

There are also several live Q&A sessions for prospective applicants to find out further details, throughout April and May, before the call for solutions closes at 5pm on 31 May 2021.