It would seem that everything in Adult Social Care is digital, at least that’s how it seems but are we really ready?

The digitisation of care is nothing new and over the last ten years or so we’ve seen various technologies introduced to help both those we care for and free up time for staff to do other things.

This has mostly been piecemeal and now we see the roll out of national programs designed to push the sector forward in a big leap.   

One such program is Digitising Social Care (or DISC as we like to shorten it to) which is designed to help care providers adopt Digital Care Records.    Again, Digital Care Records are nothing new but the adoption of them by the sector has not been as quick in our increasingly digital age as one would expect.

There are many reasons for this which are well documented such as a lack of time to implement or the perception that the workforce is not particularly tech savvy.  The other main reason usually stated as a barrier is money, and in that respect the DISC program is designed to address that by offering match funding to support the implementation of a Digital Care Records platform by care providers.

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of how the funding works here as the ICBs are doing that with their care providers, but you may wonder why we as a Care Association would be taking an interest in this?

As a Care Association, first and foremost we are here to support our member care providers. We do that in numerous ways but also by encouraging our members to adopt working practices or technologies which we believe will make both their lives and the lives of those they care for easier.  We believe – and have seen plenty of real-world examples – that using Digital Care Records achieves this.  Many of our members who’ve already made the leap say it’s one of the best decisions they have made.

But like all decisions there are many things you need to bear in mind if it is to be successful, particularly regarding data security. If your records are paper based, you will be handing and storing sensitive data but how you do this becomes even more important when you go digital. Suddenly your data may become more portable and accessible and there will probably be more of it, so how do you ensure that it’s secure?

One of the easiest ways you can assess your data security is to complete the Data Security Protection Toolkit (DSPT).  This is a free online assessment of your data security and procedures. Completing the DSPT demonstrates that you take your information governance seriously, both to those you care for and your commissioning bodies.

Successful completion of the DSPT opens up access to various technologies from the NHS such as NHS Mail, Proxy Access and Shared Care Records.

It is a contractual requirement if you work with the NHS and is increasingly being included in Local Authority contracts as well. It’s also something that CQC look favorably on, as it meets the requirements of several KLoEs.

So again, you may be asking yourselves why a Care Association is taking an interest in this and it’s a good question.   

Solid information governance underpins the successful transition to digital working and it’s important that our members are aware of this.  Thankfully we are here to help.  Our Care Association along with many others are part of a national support program called Better Security Better Care. 

We can offer free support and advice to all CQC registered providers on completing the DSPT.   So, for those care providers out there who are thinking about making the digital leap but would like some support ensuring their Information Governance ticks all the necessary boxes, then contact your Local Support Organisation for more details.

Keiron Broadbent
Chief Executive Officer
West Midlands Care Association

Keiron Broadbent is Chief Executive Officer of the West Midlands Care Association (WMCA).  WMCA is one of the largest local care associations in England, representing over 500 members across the West Midlands Regions

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