The accelerating role of technology in adult health and social care

Adult health and social care

On 1 December 2021, the government detailed new plans to accelerate the adoption and use of technology within the adult health and social care sector.

These plans were part of the ‘People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform’ white paper, which announced that £150 million of funding would be made available over the next three years to deliver a programme to digitally transform the social care sector.

Building on the ‘Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data’ strategy first published in June 2021, the white paper’s plans set out to harness the potential of data in health and care, while maintaining the highest standards of privacy and ethics.

During the pandemic, the adult social care sector began to embrace the digital technologies which became key to people receiving care. According to the white paper, 90 per cent of care providers said they will continue to use technology as they have during the pandemic.

What types of technology are used in health and social care?

The government plans focus on integrating software systems with the NHS and Social Care, enabling a more responsive and integrated approach to delivery. There are multiple workstreams sitting within the approach, for example:

  • Digital Social Care has been working with NHS Transformation Directorate to support the department’s commitment that 80 per cent of adult social care providers will have access to a Shared Care Record by 2024.
  • Third-party providers are creating ever-more innovative systems and technologies. This includes an enhanced role for remote monitoring and engagement (e.g. video assistants); Assistive Technologies (e.g. Augmented communication tools) ; and support platforms (e.g. systems that offer ‘controlled’
  • The roll-out of  Virtual Care Wards. These wards use monitoring technologies (such as Bluetooth enabled heart monitors) to remotely track the physical wellbeing of the individual with their home (or care home) environment. The system is configured to immediately identify ‘out of safe range’ readings, escalating these to the appropriate clinician for review and intervention where needed. This benefits both their quality of life and the ability of hospitals and other care settings to more efficiently manage finite resources and bed space.

Training opportunities for digital technology

Within the white paper, there is a clear recognition that care providers need more support to continue their digital transformation journey, particularly in terms of the need for additional training. This will support the development of digital skills in the social care sector.

This is to play a more prominent role in the Enhanced Health in Care Homes Framework refresh. Placing a greater emphasis developing digital training programmes and leadership qualifications so that the sector has the core technological skills needed to embrace and maximise the benefits of these emergent technologies.

What does this all mean for tendering opportunities?

The implications for tendering are two-fold. Firstly, there is an increasing number of tenders (single provider and framework) focused on identifying and sourcing innovative solutions. A tacit recognition by commissioners that there are technologies they are now currently aware of and so a real opportunity for new market entrants.

Secondly, ‘standard’ services (e.g. Community Care, Supported Living, Residential Care) are requiring bidders to have a clear roadmap to technological integration. This needs to demonstrate both the capital commitments being made alongside clear strategies for roll-out and upskilling of both end-users and the workforce supporting them.  

If you would like to be made aware when relevant tender opportunities come up in your industry or field of expertise, contact us today on 0330 1331 041 or to see how we can help.

What is next for adult social care?

Social care

On 7 September 2021, the government set out its new plan for adult social care reform in England. This included a lifetime cap on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care, alongside a means-test for local authority financial support.

These plans were part of the Build Back Better campaign announced by the government which has been created to repair the health and social care systems following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like similar plans to revolutionise Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), the government wants to bring various agencies and organisations together to reform social care.

How will social care be funded?

From October 2023, the government will introduce a new £86,000 cap on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care over their lifetime.

In addition to this, the upper capital limit (UCL), the point at which people become eligible to receive some financial support from their local authority, will rise to £100,000 from the current £23,250. The UCL of £100,000 will apply universally, irrespective of the circumstances or setting in which an individual receives care. The lower capital limit (LCL), the threshold below which people will not have to pay anything for their care from their assets will increase to £20,000 from £14,250.

As part of these changes, there has been a proposed amendment to the Care Act 2014 to the way that people within the means test progress towards the cap. This amendment, subject to Parliamentary approval, will ensure that only the amount that the individual contributes towards these costs will count towards the cap on care costs, and people do not reach the cap at an artificially faster rate than what they contribute.

To allow people receiving means-tested support to keep more of their own income, the government will unfreeze the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) for those receiving care in their own homes and Personal Expenses Allowance (PEA) for care home residents, so that they rise in line with inflation.

The cap will not cover the daily living costs (DLCs) for people in care homes, and people will remain responsible for their daily living costs throughout their care journey, including after they reach the cap. For simplicity, these costs will be set at the equivalent of £200 per week in 2021 prices.

The means test for financial support will continue to work in the same way as it does currently by determining what someone can afford to contribute towards the costs of their care based on their assets and pension.

What else will change?

As well as the Build Back Better policy proposals, the government also released a white paper in March 2022 entitled People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform, which went further to pledge fundamental changes to the social care system in the UK over the next three years.

These include:

  • Investing at least £300 million to integrate housing into local health and care strategies, with a focus on increasing the range of new supported housing options available
  • At least £150 million of additional funding to drive greater adoption of technology and achieve widespread digitisation across social care to support independent living and improve the quality of care
  • Releasing £500 million so the social care workforce have the right training and qualifications
  • A new practical support service to make minor repairs and changes in people’s homes to help people remain independent and safe in their home
  • Increasing the upper limit of the Disabilities Facilities Grant for home adaptations such as stairlifts, wet rooms and home technologies
  • Up to £25 million to support unpaid carers
  • More than £70 million to improve the delivery of care and support services, including assisting local authorities to better plan and develop the support and care options available

What does this all mean for tendering opportunities?

With additional funding for adult social care products and services being released, that can only mean one thing – more tender opportunities and potential contracts.

Pushing the adoption of technology, training and qualifications and working with local authorities to develop support services all present fantastic opportunities for organisations in those areas.

If you would like to be made aware when relevant tender opportunities come up in your industry or field of expertise, contact us today on 0330 1331 041 or to see how we can help.