There is greater focus than ever to find innovative ways to influence the collective behaviour of citizens, third sector partners, care workers and service providers, and achieve the goal of allowing people to live happier, better and longer lives.
It is rapidly becoming clear that the traditional model of state provided care is no longer economically viable; not only are people living longer but they are increasingly seeking out self-directed, independent care solutions, often involving family, friends and community partners.
Added pressure comes from the demographics of an ageing population, changes to care legislation, the demands for an integrated approach to care, and the need to prove best value for money. From those who rely on social care services, requirements are also changing. People want their care provision to be less intrusive, less fragmented and more local and to be in control of their own lives, especially when it comes to decisions about their wellbeing. They also increasingly expect to access care services digitally.
To satisfy these combined requirements, changes – often very difficult ones – must happen quickly. This is a real challenge in a traditionally high risk, process-driven environment. But as we are seeing across other public services, digital provision has the power to deliver many of these changes quickly and cost-effectively.
An online approach can provide an effective means to maximise the use of limited public funds. Digital social care solutions can enable citizens to understand, fulfil and manage their needs in a simple-to-access format, empowering them to determine their requirements, plan their support and choose the care package that meets their needs, all through a single point of access.
At the same time this can significantly reduce the cost of social care assessments, support planning and care commissioning, while providing measurable improvements to the citizen’s experience. Digital solutions can also be configured and easily reconfigured to ensure they meet new and emerging legislative requirements.
With an increased focus on self-service solutions, and less budget required to implement these, digital solutions will ensure councils are better placed to react and respond to demand. While careful planning, integration and resources are required to define, design and implement digital social care strategies, there are real and measurable benefits to be realised in the long term. This will result in tangible cost savings, process efficiencies and joined-up service provision, as well as ensuring provision of care for those most in need.