We are in the midst of a rapid technology revolution in the sector. It is a sad fact that we are facing significant challenges posed by an aging population, increased demand for services and a critical shortage of staff. Digital technology can support to address some of these challenges, providing innovative solutions that enable more efficient, effective and person-centred care for individuals. This revolution is being televised (well, streamed) and its success is reliant on how it is led.

At the National Care Forum; we strive to support our members so that they can deliver quality care. As not-for-profit organisations, our members employ innovative, creative and inclusive solutions to tackle the challenges they and the people in receipt of their care face. The aim is to maximise the benefits realised from investing a finite budget in a solution. Leadership is key to achieving this and we can learn a lot from our pre-existing digital leaders. We recently held a webinar with two of our members, Ambient and Mencap, that unpicked their digital journeys. The ‘Walking The Yellow Brick Road’ webinar showcased the potential to streamline business processes, increasing data insight and reducing administrative burden. Here, we were able to gain insight into the path they trod, the processes they employed and the lessons they learned.

Our recent CEO and Director’s Conference provided another opportunity for learning with Community Integrated Care’s Managing Director of Technology Enabled Care, Joanna Scammell. Within our joint workshop, Joanna shared the journey to delivering a solution that provides responsive support matched to the person’s needs. It is a perfect blend of virtual wellbeing calls, curated digital content and activities, sensor-based technology and digital care planning. What this revealed was the measured and person-first approach that leads to successful solutions, and should therefore be at the heart of our journeys.

Digital Social Care is another haven of learning that is accelerating the revolution. Two recent webinars delved into technologies that were previously thought of as ‘the future’: Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and Robotics. These embedded shared learning from care providers and tech suppliers to demonstrate the art of the possible. We learnt that these offer a powerful solution to challenges faced and that identifying the right technology yields positive results. Being built around ‘user-friendly’ design means that barriers to interacting with the technology are removed. In reality, this is a responsive companion robot whose support positively impacts on the person’s independence as the robot’s presence does not feel daunting. Another example is Painchek, the pain assessment app, which uses a smart device’s camera to measure pain levels in a person’s face. It is designed to be easy to use, and therefore will be used. Its ability to remove the guess work on something which is impossible to assess with the human eye alone shows clear benefits.

The revolution cannot be reliant on the leaders of today and the future needs digital to be part of our everyday so that everyone can benefit. The National Care Forum and Skills for Care have recently launched a new training programme for growing the sector’s digital leaders. The programme equips Registered Managers with the necessary skills, knowledge and models that underpin the digital transformation journey. This is the map that the digital leader can co-define the route to take and that they will ensure is safe, measured and well-led. This is a revolution engrained with the required changes for a positive future of person-centred and outcome-focused care and support and we must ensure that no-one is left behind.     

Adam Hunt

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