Adult social care in the UK has been falling short for more than 10 years.
The demand is high, with more people asking for support and fewer receiving it. Meanwhile, attracting and retaining employees in a struggling sector has become a significant challenge. Here Managing Director of Provide Digital Paul Twyman looks at how digital technology could make all the difference.
A study commissioned and published on 26th April 2023 by the Association of Directors for Adult Social Services (ADASS) highlighted the need for significant investment and a hefty dose of political will.
ADASS president Sarah McClinton said it came at a time when the adult care system was “close to breaking point,” with millions “in pain or distress”.
But solutions had been identified.
In fact, one recommendation proposed adult social care harness the power of digital technology to streamline operations and improve efficiency.
This shouldn’t be rocket science. After all, during the pandemic, many organisations accelerated their digital transformation to meet new challenges.
But although the NHS – naturally – was one of these, some service areas didn’t adapt quite as quickly as others.
What about social care?
The Government’s policy paper, Next Steps to Putting People at the Heart of Care admitted adult social care had not received the attention it deserved for decades.
In the report, Helen Whately MP promised the government was committed to improving the lives of more than 10 million people who work in, draw on and provide care and support, adding: “I want to support care workers to develop their skills and their careers, and to be recognised for those skills.”
She continued: “That’s why we are setting out our plan for the care workforce, including the care workforce pathway, a new Care Certificate qualification, funded training for care workers and registered managers, and funded continued professional development training, as well as a digital skills passport.”
So, what is a digital skills passport?
With more than £500 million of Government funding, the digital skills passport will allow social care staff to capture their learning and development with training falling into three key areas:
- Care Certificate, this is baseline training for the care workforce
- Accredited training and qualifications
- Non-accredited training, learning, and development
A digital skills passport should help to address issues of portability of staff training and development by providing a permanent and verifiable record of skills, behaviours, and achievements that would be accessible to employees and could be shared with new or potential employers.
At the moment, the Adult Social Care workforce need to either carry, scan or request copies of completed certificates when changing employers.
But at Provide Digital we are already one step ahead of you here.
Digital paper trail
When the pandemic hit, it highlighted the archaic nature of the paper trail in which the NHS was drowning, especially regarding staff competencies.
With no single centralised source of the truth, redeploying staff to other areas of a hospital for example, without being able to identify individuals’ skill sets was not just problematic, but potentially dangerous.
Provide Digital’s work began here.
After creating a series of apps and software for locating and deploying staff to critical wards it then started work on, eQuals, designed to transform how skills and competencies were managed.
In short, just like the proposed digital skills passport, this central system allows staff to identify and prove their relevant credentials.
But going one step further, it also allows staff to have skills and competencies witnessed and approved in real time.
eQuals in a nutshell
Our eQuals app has already been successfully rolled out across Derbyshire.
Before trialling eQuals, the Trust was spending a lot of time finding information about a team’s level of competency or competencies across a job role – time which could have been better placed on patient care.
They also wanted a system that allowed staff to update, renew or undertake skills and competencies that allowed their senior counterparts to approve these as and when they were completed – creating an evidence dossier to demonstrate best practice.
The benefits of using eQuals include:
- Real-time assessments and reporting of skills for staff
- Being easily able to identify competencies for roles and resolve any gaps/opportunities.
- Better planning – proactive retraining and reassessment notifications to support continued competency.
- More targeted learning and development from greater visibility of needs.
- Granular data to provide detailed reporting on workforce skills from organisation level down to the role/individual.
- A significant opportunity to skill mix – identifying workforce capability and capacity.
- Improved retention – supporting evidence-based talent identification and management.
- Greater levels of assurance on quality, compliance, and standardisation.
- A competent, confident workforce with greater productivity.
- A reduction to the admin burden – clinicians can focus on development as opposed to time spent on difficult or onerous documentation procedures.