Guide published to support introduction of technologies into adult social care

A new guide to help councils and social care providers avoid common issues when introducing technologies into adult social care has been published by the University of Birmingham and RAND Europe.

The guide has been developed through the BRACE Rapid Evaluation Centre and co-badged by Digital Social Care and NHS England Transformation Directorate social care partners. It explores findings from a BRACE study which examined decision-making and implementation processes for home sensors with AI capabilities which had been trialed in social care sites across England. Although the AI technology is described by Birmingham as “potentially powerful”, the study highlighted issues with implementation and decision-making “which kept the technology from meeting expectations in terms of having a positive impact on care.”

To assist with these issues, the guide provides a four-step process:

  1. Be clear on what to achieve and involve the right people people in discussions such as service users, carers, families and frontline staff
  2. Pick the right technology for identified needs, understand potential risks and assess whether digital infrastructure is in place for the new tool
  3. Ensure clear communication with the people involved and make sure that the right training is in place, as well as being clear about how any data produced will be used
  4. Build an evaluation from the start, learn what went well and what did not, and think about next steps

Jon Glasby, professor of health and social care at the University of Birmingham, said: “Technology could have the potential to transform the way we deliver social care, but so many attempts to introduce new technology seem to over-promise and under-deliver. This could be for many different reasons, including a lack of understanding or fear of technology, unrealistic expectations about what technology can achieve, or underestimating the importance of social and cultural change alongside technological solutions.”

Sarah Parkinson from RAND Europe added: “By thinking early on about exactly what a new technology is meant to accomplish, how data will be used and what type of training or support might be needed, we can help make sure that technology is used to its fullest potential to improve adult social care.”