Senior leaders of social care talk real-time data, apps and gizmos

Written by Mark Raeburn, MD, Capita One

Could technology help to define a new way in which the health and social care sectors will work to support vulnerable citizens and their families?

This was one of the key topics under discussion at a roundtable event in London recently hosted by Capita One in partnership with the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADASS). And it sparked some interesting ideas.

Bringing people together

One of the senior leaders at the event raised the point that it can be difficult to maintain and build on the relationships required to deliver a more joined up service, particularly when staff move on. Another attendee spoke about how integrated technology can provide a framework to codify relationships.

But there was general consensus that the availability of accurate, timely information is vital to ensuring the needs of vulnerable individuals and their families are met.

Consider this example. If a partially-sighted gentleman is unexpectedly widowed and finds himself struggling to cope at home, there could be many different practitioners involved in getting him the help he needs. This might include a social worker, a community health practitioner, an occupational therapist, someone from the local authority’s welfare and benefits team, as well as a bereavement counsellor.

In a successful joined-up service, all these people would be able to access and record the information they need – and see the latest notes on the case – whether they are sat at their desks or travelling to an assessment meeting.

But technology can do more than just link professionals together, as the discussions highlighted.

Improving the experience of those in need

There was much discussion about devices that could help local authorities to ensure that, wherever possible, vulnerable citizens can remain at home if they wish to do so. Just one example given is a tool that can remotely monitor a patient’s wellbeing and allow instant contact with services in an emergency.

Attendees also agreed that there is huge untapped potential for services to make better use of tools such as smartphone and tablet apps for improving health and wellbeing.

We’re all becoming increasingly familiar with having our phones prompt us to reach a personal goal of 10,000 steps a day, for example, or remind us to get our five-a-day. Some senior leaders suggested that these tools could become part of a broader early help initiative designed to improve public health.

The event offered a great opportunity for senior leaders to consider how emerging technology might fit into a new world of more integrated health and social care. And the resulting discussions provided all concerned with much food for thought.

If you’d like to know more, ADASS has produced a report on the discussions that took place at the round table event and you can download it here.

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