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Reflections on the latest ADASS Spring Survey

23 July 2024
By Helen Broad, SCIE Policy and Public Affairs Officer 

The 2024 Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) Spring Survey released last week confirmed what we in the sector have long known to be true: the social care system is at a breaking point. Local councils and their limited budgets are unable to meet the increasing demand for social care, especially requests from individuals with complex care needs, and the expectations laid out in the Care Act. This has resulted in longer waiting times for discharge from hospital and a heightened pressure on the NHS. Now is the time for action to support the social care offer through greater investment in the social care sector.

 

One such investment is in the form of digital technology or tech enabled care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the social care sector saw significant improvements in digital technology advancement and data collection which helped to inform national and local decisions on social care. “72% of Directors, just under three-quarters, indicated that for 2024/25 their council has a positive investment strategy for digital and technology for adult social care.
 

Clarifying what this investment consists of – and what local areas hope to achieve – is mission critical. Nearly four years on from the start of the pandemic, the utilisation of digital technology has become common place but there is still more to do. For innovation to flourish in the sector, investment in infrastructure and regional tech eco-systems is as important as making tech available to individuals drawing on care and support.

We are a sector facing challenges from multiple angles. The workforce, in particular, is strained by the challenges surrounding recruitment and retention. The ADASS survey indicated that ensuring staff have the skills and confidence they need to maximise the use of digital tools would make the biggest difference to upscaling and mainstreaming the use of digital technology. This will only come with a stable workforce, so the publication of the new Skills for Care Workforce Strategy is welcome, giving us a way forward to better attract, retain and train those who work in care.

Both a robust workforce and an increase in tech enabled care go hand in hand in supporting the sector. Digital technology can help to ease the pressure on the workforce, yet its impact will only be realised if the existing workforce is adequately trained.

There is a role for us all to play in training and implementing digital technology from:

  • Government through greater investment in an ecosystem that integrates innovation and tech enabled care into the infrastructure of social care;
  • Individuals continuing to demand and expect better care quality; and
  • Organisations such as providers and statutory bodies transforming to account for changing technology engaging with staff, service users and their families around these new services being provided

We are on a journey of digital transformation and getting this right gives us another tool in our arsenal of support for the overstrained but vital social care sector.

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