[Published / updated on .gov 17 May 2023]

Review by Sanome’s Olivia

The NHS recently published a comprehensive document titled ‘Digital Working in Adult Social Care: What Good Looks Like’, providing a benchmark for ‘good’ digital services within the social care sector. This guidance encapsulates expectations regarding staff, technology, capability, privacy and security. Whilst the guidance is structured around seven ‘Success Measures’, it lacks substantive detail on key areas such as funding, training and investment that are crucial for successful transition, implementation & achieving digital maturity. While it aims to establish a digital standard, the absence of these specifics may place an onerous burden on Local Authorities and care providers who are expected to align with these standards.

On the subject of staff, the document stresses the importance of fostering digital skills and confidence in their ability to use and support digital services for individuals. The need for more Social Care Informaticians, akin to Chief Clinical Information Officers (CCIOs), is identified, along with the necessity for Caldicott Guardians and Data Protection Officers to ensure high levels of privacy. It also suggests the need to develop, train and offer career advancement for data and analytical workforce.

In terms of capability, the document emphasises the need to address digital exclusion and maintain the ability to offer both digital and non-digital options. Interoperability is made a priority, with an emphasis on interfacing individual records with NHS numbers and co-producing services and plans. The document also highlights the importance of multi-channel accessibility and the use of data for quality monitoring, learning, and improvement.

Regarding technology, the publication encourages the transition from analogue to digital phone lines and the updating of associated technologies. It also highlights the importance of providing Wifi, broadband, and mobile data to staff as required, and making the move towards cloud data storage. The document calls for the use of secure emails and actively maintaining shared care records.

Privacy and cyber-security are given due importance, with a call to complete the Data Security and Protection Toolkit. It advocates for strong cyber security practices and continuity plans for data and cyber security, in accordance with UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Information governance and staff training are also deemed essential.

In view of the future, the document underscores the transition to data-informed and proactive services with the ability to evaluate technology. The importance of real-world data for evaluating new technologies is highlighted, along with the need to monitor care data and identify opportunities for improvement. Finally, the guidance stresses the significance of data on staff skills and offering training, and using analytics on services to improve outcomes.

Overall, a strong starting point and guidance Sanome will consider when running our co-design workshops, Patient Public Involvement (PPI’s) workshops, and digital skills training. 

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