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Twelve councils have been awarded £20,000 each to explore how digital technology can help shape social care, NHS Digital has announced.
This is only the first injection of funding that will allow councils to ‘investigate local challenges that could be addressed using digital technology’, in what NHS Digital refers to as a first ‘discovery’ phase.
However, only six of the twelve councils will be chosen for the second stage to design and implement their solution and will be given up to £80,000, NHS Digital specified.
The awarded councils are:
• Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
• Bracknell Forest Council
• South Tyneside Council
• Lincolnshire County Council
• Nottingham City Council
• London Borough of Havering
• London Borough of Haringey
• Shropshire Council
• Cambridgeshire County Council
• Isle of Wight Council
• Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
• Sunderland City Council
The Social Care Digital Innovation Programme (SCDIP), commissioned by NHS Digital and managed by the Local Government Association (LGA), will allow the selected councils to run ‘projects ranging from new assistive technology to data analytics to predict demand’.
SCDIP programme lead James Palmer said: ‘This funding will give the local authorities a chance to identify and investigate a local problem before testing out a potential solution.
‘They will be sharing their experiences from the pilot projects, adding to our collective knowledge of how digital can effectively be used to support the delivery of adult social care.’
The SCDIP follows from last year’s Local Investment Programme – ran jointly by the LGA and NHS Digital – that gave nineteen councils a one-off injection of £50,000 to adopt digital technology to improve social care services.
Address social care workforce shortages
LGA’s Community and Wellbeing Board digital lead Mayor Kate Allsop said: ‘The councils selected have chosen some important areas to address ranging from exploring new methods of linking residents with community resources to addressing social care provider workforce shortages.’
A National Audit Office report published earlier this year estimated that 1.34 million people worked in adult social care in 2016-17. The report also found that there was a 27% turnover rate, with 6.6% of posts unfilled. According to Skills for Care, the strategic body for workforce development in adult social care in England, this equates to ‘approximately 90,000 vacancies at any one time’.
This comes as a new research commissioned by Anchor, care and housing charity for older people found that 78% of people say they would not like to begin a career in the adult social care sector, with social care organisations urging the secretary of state for health and social care Jeremy Hunt to act to change the public perception on social care.