Sixteen organisations that provide and commission adult social care services are to receive a share of a £4.5m Social Care Digital Pathfinders grant to enable them to roll out their local digital projects on a wider scale.
The grant supports products and services that have already been piloted in small, local areas with the view to implementing them on a larger scale.
The successful Digital Pathfinders will now commence a 13-month implementation phase with projects predominantly looking at standardising information and developing digital ways of sharing that information between multiple health and care organisations.
The investment is managed by NHS Digital as part of the NHS’ Digital Transformation Portfolio and supports the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s vision for interoperability and openness, open standards and appropriate infrastructure.
Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said, 'Bridging the technology gap between the NHS and social care is a central part of achieving a health and care service that is fit for the future. This £4.5m investment will support local areas to improve information sharing across services, ensuring people avoid hospital unless absolutely necessary and helping everyone live independently for longer.'
Examples of the pathfinder projects to be provided with the funding are:
- South Gloucestershire Council and London Borough of Sutton, which are both working to recognise care homes as 'Partners in Care' by developing the ‘digital red bag’. This involves providing care homes with access to the existing Local Health and Care Record (LHCR) portals, and allowing information to be shared across GPs, hospitals and other local organisations to support continuity of care. This new initiative will mean that care homes can also view and update those records.
- Wirral Council, which is working to scale up the Digital Discharge process for hospital patients who require care and support when they are discharged. Their system sends information directly into a local authority’s social care system ahead of the patient being discharged and, where there is a change in circumstances, removing the need for assessment (known as Assessment, Discharge and Withdrawal notices).
Pam Garraway Senior Responsible Officer for the Social Care Programme at NHS Digital said, 'I’m delighted to see so many exciting digital projects now underway - every one of which has the potential to benefit the whole health and social care sector...
'This isn’t just about best practice pilots. Once this work is finalised, we fully expect areas will be able to go out and use these products and implement them locally – safe in the knowledge that they are tried and tested.'
A full list of the projects awarded the Social Care Digital Pathfinders grant is available on the NHS Digital website.