It was my pleasure to be a guest on the first episode of Redefining Care and talk about the leadership role that not-for-profit care providers are taking in understanding how technology can transform care, and the ways the National Care Forum (NCF) have supported fundamental agendas around recognition of the workforce and ensuring that the journey towards greater integration values the strategic role of care providers.
We began by talking about the ever present ambition for meaningful integration between health and social care and what needs to change for this to create improved outcomes for patients and carers. This is a topic NCF have centred on, producing a wide range of resources available for the whole sector, and bringing together system leaders from across health and care in a roundtable to coincide with the first anniversary of Integrated Care Systems. As a result, The Nuffield Trust produced a long read recommending more streamlined working and communications between health and social care. The integration of workforces and the beneficial effect this could have on wider strategic planning and joint learning was a valuable thread explored.
Racing on (there was a lot to talk about!) we pivoted into how shared care records could deliver an improved experience for those receiving care and delivering it.
Advancements in the use of technology in social care is of course a hot topic. I have a great personal interest in this agenda, alongside being steeped in the policy perspective of this through my role as Chair of the government’s Digital Social Care Advisory Group, my leadership role in Digital Social Care and work with the Better Security Better Care programme. It was good to touch on how we can learn from innovations taking place in other parts of the world in robotics and sensor-based technology for example. There’s a lot for us to do in the UK to embed these technologies that could enable more people to live independently for longer in their own homes as well as have application in care settings. The not-for-profit sector has taken a leadership role here and in order to make a real impact on the sector, more needs to be done on a larger scale, faster and in partnership with the people who are receiving care and support.
AI is a topic I have been watching closely, so it was good to discuss where I believe the sector is at with this technology and where we could go with it. Most important is to establish what we want AI to do for us and understand how regulators might be planning to implement it in regulation methods. Where AI might be used for example to develop new care plans, careful consideration will be needed on how a regulator, also using AI, might analyse and assess elements such as quality and staffing. A word of warning on this though; with different schools of thought in play around the potential damage AI could cause, we need to move quickly to harness the good it can bring to our sector.
A few thoughts around workforce to end on. One area that I think is particularly important is linked to the recent rapid expansion of frameworks and resources to support delegate health and care tasks to social care workers, but where those same workers are not being paid fairly in recognition of the senior skills they are learning and practicing. Finally, the challenge of workforce recruitment and retention desperately need attention. With vacancy levels of 152,000 in a workforce of 1.6m, we are still in a very urgent situation which requires additional funding to allow providers to pay their staff fairly. We know as a country that we are not alone here. Social care is a global issue and matters to us all, and we need to make the most of opportunities that enable us to learn from each other.
You can listen to the podcast on: https://redefiningcare.buzzsprout.com/share