Information and technology in social work

NHS Digital (formerly the Health and Social Care Information Centre) has commissioned SCIE in partnership with market research agency, GfK, to gather insights into how the social work role can be supported, now and in the future, through the use of information and technology

Technological shifts have had far-reaching effects in recent years; however care and support systems have remained relatively immune to these changes. In 2014 the Department of Health made it clear that whilst human interactions would always be the foundation of good quality care, these could be “… better informed, more efficient and better organised if supported by data and technology services.” Despite recognition that technology can be a key enabler of good care, evidence on its use in frontline social work is relatively scarce.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many social workers are keen to embrace the opportunities afforded by mobile technology and the ability to access and edit records on the move is seen as a positive that will lead to increased efficiency and productivity. Many also see these technologies as a new means of engaging with service users. However, support for these new tools is not universal and concerns surrounding governance, information-sharing and confidentiality issues have been raised by some commentators.

SCIE and GfK are exploring how social workers are currently using IT in their role, and what could be done better, to bridge the gap between current availability and their requirements. The work will then feed into the development of existing and future products. Further to this the research process also seeks to raise NHS Digital’s profile with the sector, with a role in leading innovation and new thinking around the use of technology in social care settings

How can information and technology support social workers?

Social workers are invited to share their experiences and suggestions on information and technology by completing a short online survey by 3 February 2017. It should only take a few minutes to complete, and it will make a real difference.

We are particularly keen to hear from social workers in children and family settings.

Complete the survey

As a social worker, you use a lot of information and data in your daily work.

NHS Digital is researching how social workers across children’s and adults’ services in England can be supported more effectively through the use of information and technology.

By completing this short online survey you will be helping NHS Digital to better understand the needs of social workers, to inform the development of existing and future services. NHS Digital will also share the findings of the research with the social care sector more widely, to encourage greater support of social workers in using information and technology. It is therefore important that as many social workers from different settings take part. Please encourage colleagues to take part in the survey.

Please be assured that all responses will be completely confidential and individuals will not be identified. Data will be processed in line with the Data Protection Act 1998, and GfK operates within the Market Research Society Code of Conduct.

GfK and the Social Care Institute for Excellence are carrying out the research on behalf of NHS Digital.

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How better information and technology can support social workBy Mark Nicholas, Strategic Account Manager, Social Care, NHS Digital