The past year has affected nearly every aspect of our lives, be it personal or professional. For the social care sector, the need to adapt its ways of working has been especially prevalent as we unlock the power of technology - and data - to ensure services are being delivered effectively and efficiently for the benefit of all involved.

In amongst the day-to-day running of care services, the impact of the Covid pandemic has had a positive effect on the relationship between providers and commissioners – shifting the narrative to one of greater collaboration and partnership working.

At the same time there has been a greater emphasis on ‘home first’; delivering person-centred care in people’s own homes rather than residential settings. Having data and insights at your fingertips to support safe, quality care delivery has never been more important.

Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen that social care’s digital maturity is not on par with the NHS; however there is now a recognition that data collection is valuable in the wider context of social care and health.

The latest ADASS Survey highlights the continued risk to market sustainability with 82% of directors reporting concern about the sustainability of some of their home care providers and 77% about some of their care home providers. While Covid-19 short term funding has helped to prevent failure, there is profound uncertainty about the future.

It’s no coincidence that we’ve seen an increased appetite for data that delivers market oversight and gives commissioners information about their providers to support their conversations, whether it’s to alleviate concerns or overcome challenges. We’ve also seen more councils recognise the benefits of sharing data with neighbours to allow everyone to work with the same risk-based, intelligence-based approach.

Currently, four of the nine ADASS regions - East, Yorkshire and Humber, North East and London - are all using the same technology platform to bring together market intelligence, quality and financial data in one place, in real-time to deliver dynamic data collection, analysis and reporting to increase care quality and mitigate risks of provider failure. Whilst some are further into their journey than others they are all enthusiastic about the benefits of actionable data.

By using insights and intelligence effectively, individual local authorities and regions are being supported with market shaping, both at a local and regional level, enabling them to truly recognise future demand. Understanding the future with more certainty supports conversations with providers to understand the impact this has around provider capacity, budget requirements (sharing the risk and reward between commissioner and provider) and the quality of services being delivered against individual, provider, and regional outcomes.

Achieving sustainable care markets clearly relies on investment but as the funding debate rages on, real-time data about what’s happening in care markets and how providers are performing empowers commissioners to make informed decisions and supports the transparent, collaborative working the pandemic has fostered.

Ben Chance Head of PAMMS at HAS Technology.

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