Electronic care planning software, or as its increasingly called, Digital Social Care Records, has been identified by the government as a priority for the social care sector to digitise. The recent publication of ‘Care Data Matters – a roadmap for better data for adult social care’ reaffirms the government’s commitment to getting 80% of CQC-registered care providers using a digital social care record by March 2024.

CQC are also on board with this agenda and have recently stated, “We believe that digital record systems can be more effective than paper-based records”. This will be reassuring for many providers who have been concerned about CQC’s attitudes to digitisation in the past.

There are many benefits to using digital social care records. Firstly, it can improve the speed and accuracy of data processing. Digital records can be easily accessed and updated, reducing the need for manual data entry and minimising the risk of errors. This will also make it easier for professionals to collaborate and share information, improving the overall quality of care.

Secondly, when digital social care records are used correctly, they can provide people who use care and support services with greater control over their personal information. For many digital care records systems, this access can also be extended to relatives and loved ones where appropriate consent is in place. They can be reassuring for individuals who use services as well as their families.

However, it is important to consider accessibility when moving from paper records to digital systems. Some individuals may not feel confident accessing digital solutions or may have different accessibility requirements which might make some software difficult or impossible to use. When choosing a digital social care record system, it’s vital that care providers consider accessibility before purchasing a solution and wherever possible involve the people they support with decision making process.

Finally, digital social care records can support more proactive care. Many digital social care records systems have alerts built in which can notify staff if there is a pattern of deterioration more quickly than is possible with paper records. This allows potential issues to be identified and addressed proactively. This is especially true where care records software integrates with other technologies, such as sensor-based monitors.

Despite the many benefits of digital social care records, there are concerns about the security and privacy of such sensitive data. This is why it’s important that care providers have robust security measures in place to ensure that data is protected and only accessed by authorised people. Care providers should also have continuity plans in place in case there is a systems outage for any reason. The Better Security, Better Care programme is a government funded programme which provides free support to care providers in England to help with improving data and cyber security.

The move towards digital social care records has been welcomed by many in the social care sector and approximately 50% of all care providers in England are using these systems. However, there are also concerns about the potential cost and complexity of implementing and also the difficulty in selecting a solution which works for different types of organisations. There is a lot of help available. Care providers looking to adopt digital social care records for the first time can apply for the “Adult Social Care Digital Transformation Fund” through their Integrated Care System (ICS) to help with costs and for support on choosing a system.

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