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Half of UK councils have no understanding of technology enabled care, says report

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Photo: TEC Services Association (TSA)

The first-ever state of sector report on technology enabled care (TEC), highlights how a lack of understanding is holding back the wider adoption of tech in heath and social care.

Around half of councils in the UK believe there is little or almost no understanding of technology enabled care (TEC) across the health and social care workforce.

And while 97 per cent of adult social care leaders agree that TEC is an important way to respond to “the tidal wave of demand and complexity” they face, eight in 10 say building a case for investment to achieve their goals remains a key challenge.

The findings come in From ambition to action, the first state of the sector report on TEC, which was launched in Birmingham this week at the annual International Technology Enabled Care Conference, Empowering People’s Lives.

Drawing together a wealth of data, including a new in-depth survey of adult social care leaders from across the UK, it shows the case for wider use of TEC has been proven.

The report, produced by the TEC Services Association (TSA) and PA Consulting, finds 100 per cent of respondents to the survey regard TEC services – using everything from traditional alarms and sensors to smart devices to help people maintain their independence – as a vital part of their social care offer.

Findings showed that TEC is underutilised and has the potential to be used far more widely to transform lives; it can extend to supporting children and young people with special needs and disabilities and unpaid carers as well as to the support provided to older people, those with disabilities and to assist hospital discharge.

From ambition to action is framed around the opportunities for TEC to play a wider role, the need to define outcomes and build the investment case, tackling challenges and identifying enablers of success, and importance of ‘a senior-championed plan for success’.

The report identifies four key barriers: financial pressures, workforce challenges, integration of health and social care, and the digital switchover.

Knowledge and understanding gaps

Half of councils say their workforce has “almost no understanding” of how to speak confidently to service users about the benefits of TEC.

Fewer than half (45 per cent) of councils either have firm plans in place or are already making good progress in raising awareness of TEC across their workforce.

Just one-third (34 per cent) either have firm plans in place or are already making good progress in removing barriers stopping their workforce from using TEC, such as skills gaps.

Additional findings include concerns around integration, untapped opportunities and digital distraction. Two in three councils expect building an integrated approach to TEC across health and social care to be a challenge – with the remainder saying it might be. Some 79 per cent of councils currently have no plans for joint commissioning of TEC.

Two in three councils currently either do not use TEC at all, or only occasionally, to support children and their families, and more than half of councils cite the digital migration by 2025 as a challenge that could have an impact on people using services and the cost of TEC.

From ambition to action also reveals the priority areas for commissioners and their aspirations around TEC over the next 12 months – providing a valuable resource for the TEC sector.

Alyson Scurfield, CEO of TSA, said: “This report marks the culmination of a long-held ambition to capture the current state of play around technology enabled care and its potential to support a wider range of people. As the public sector grapples with rising demand and stretched resources, it’s clear that TEC services have a pivotal role to play.

“Our joint report with PA underlines the degree to which TEC is now seen as integral to meeting health and care needs and the desire to do more.”

Robert Turnbull, care technology expert at PA Consulting, added: “Social care is in crisis and councils are rightly turning to care technology as one means to support its prevention agenda. This is driving a huge surge in momentum surrounding care technology within social care. This is more than just a passing trend; it is a transformative wave poised to revolutionise how we deliver health and care. There is a huge potential to do more for the communities that would benefit from care technology, so it is promising to see councils making plans to increase their use of care technology within the next year.

“Over the last 10 years our Argenti care technology partnership has developed innovative technology-enabled services and solutions to help people live in the place they call home for as long as possible, but this needs to be coupled with the right skills, knowledge and awareness.”

Download From ambition to action at www.tsa-voice.org.uk/resources-library/state-of-the-sector

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