Sixteen organisations that provide and commission adult social care services are to receive a share of £4.5m to enable them to roll out their local digital projects on a wider scale.
The organisations have been selected to receive a Social Care Digital Pathfinders grant, which supports products and services that have already been piloted in small local areas – with the view to implementing them on a larger scale.
The successful Digital Pathfinders will now commence a 13-month implementation phase with projects predominantly looking at standardising information and developing digital ways of sharing that information between multiple health and care organisations.
The investment is managed by NHS Digital as part of the NHS’ Digital Transformation Portfolio and supports the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock’s vision for interoperability and openness, open standards and appropriate infrastructure.
Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said: “Bridging the technology gap between the NHS and social care is a central part of achieving a health and care service that is fit for the future. This £4.5 million investment will support local areas to improve information sharing across services, ensuring people avoid hospital unless absolutely necessary and helping everyone live independently for longer.”
Examples of the pathfinder projects to be provided with the funding are:
* South Gloucestershire Council and London Borough of Sutton, who are both working to recognise care homes as Partners in Care by developing the ‘digital red bag’.
This involves providing care homes with access to the existing Local Health and Care Record (LHCR) portals (Connecting Care and Health Information Exchange respectively), which allow information to be shared across GPs, hospitals and other local organisations to support continuity of care. This new initiative will mean that care homes can also view and update those records.
The two projects are also collaborating closely with the aim of developing red bag standards and a blueprint for deployment which could be rolled out nationally.
* Wirral Council who are working to scale up the Digital Discharge process for hospital patients who require care and support when they are discharged. Their system sends information directly into a local authority’s social care system ahead of the patient being discharged and where there is a change in circumstances removing the need for assessment (known as Assessment, Discharge and Withdrawal notices). The benefits of this work include:
- Improved Early Discharge performance
- Reduce Delayed Transfer of Care
- Shorter length of stay in an acute bed
- Reduced readmissions
- Reduce medical outliers
- Increase flow through the hospital
- Reduced spend on Adult Social care
Pam Garraway Senior Responsible Officer for the Social Care Programme at NHS Digital said: “I’m delighted to see so many exciting digital projects now underway – every one of which has the potential to benefit the whole health and social care sector.
“What makes it so exciting is the fact that these projects aren’t working in isolation, as they perhaps would have done in the past. They are working collectively to drive standards and solve problems, which is why we are confident that all of the pathfinder projects can be replicated easily.
“This isn’t just about best practice pilots. Once this work is finalised, we fully expect areas will be able to go out and use these products and implement them locally – safe in the knowledge that they are tried and tested.