A new Sustainable Care paper has been published today, read on for a summary and links to download the paper.
Technology in social care: review of the UK policy landscape
Dr James Wright
The last two decades have seen an explosion in the development and availability of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) across UK social care. Supporters argue that ICT can help solve the urgent problems facing the sector: reducing the cost of care by enabling people to live in their own homes for longer; providing remote services and tools for self-care and management of chronic health conditions, and thus reducing the need for domiciliary care visits; enabling closer integration of health and social care; and providing more personalised and preventive care services through the use of data, algorithms and AI to keep users healthier for longer.
As the Audit Commission stated in their 2004 report ‘Assistive Technology: Independence and Wellbeing’, these new technologies offer “the tantalising possibility for public policy to meet more people’s desire to remain independent for longer, while at the same time saving money overall”. Sixteen years later, following a decade of austerity, with sustained reductions in social care funding, worsening workforce shortages, and a lack of political leadership on social care from central government, the promise of technologies that might deliver cost savings while improving services remains highly alluring. The COVID-19 pandemic crisis, which has disproportionately affected social care, has further highlighted the potential benefits of technologies to maintain or even improve services while reducing direct person-to-person contact.