Executive Summary

By Linda Sanders, ADASS lead for Assistive Technology and Strategic Director for People, City of Wolverhampton Council

The social care system is under unsustainable pressure, facing considerable savings now totalling £4.6bn over last 5 years; a 31% real-terms reduction in local councils’ adult social care budgets. Whilst there will always be a need for more intensive care packages and care homes, new methods of care delivery closer to home need to be properly supported by commissioners to ensure people receive the support they need and prevent them from moving up the care pyramid. The majority of people would rather continue living independently in their home, if given the right support to do so[i].

However, despite the growing evidence base for the success of assistive technology, such as telecare, in improving care for users and in delivering care more efficiently in the community, the take-up of telecare nationally is not yet achieving full scale mainstreaming, as in other countries such as Spain.[ii]

I believe adult social care has not yet realised the full potential of technology enabled care and I hope that this toolkit goes some way in enabling commissioners to understand the art of the possible.

[i] Department of Health, Building telecare in England, July 2005

[ii] Barcelona – unique proactive ‘teleassistance’ centre model 

 

What is this toolkit about?

ADASS has been carrying out research into the areas of most concern to directors of adult social services and how assistive technology or technology enabled care can support these areas.

Discussions have been wide ranging covering:

  • funding - the role of technology in supporting efficiencies
  • integration – how technology is enabling integrated health, housing and care
  • housing – the future of digital technology and infrastructure planning
  • care homes - role of technology in reducing costs, improving productivity and enhancing outcomes
  • human stories on the positive impact on people’s lives – winning hearts and minds

It was important to ensure that the above themes are taken into consideration in any work we do going forward but it was also important to understand the role of technology in particular contexts, so that the reader was better able to understand the art of the possible and the outcomes that could be achieved. But also the “how” and what were the lessons learnt from the experience.

Therefore it was agreed that the next project would focus on a small number of authorities, and the extent to which technology has been integral to integration in the context of the following four themes.

  • High cost packages
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Prevention and early intervention
  • Demand management

 

Who is it for?

This toolkit is directed at Directors of Adult Social Services with the intention of sharing it with people in their organisation who need it eg assistant directors, commissioners, service leads, policy leads.

 

What are the different types of technology available?

Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) cover a range of solutions – telecare, telemedicine, telehealth, mobile apps, assistive technology and online support. Telecare is well known to the social care sector and includes sensors in the home, to allow older people and those with long term needs such as dementia, learning disabilities, physical disabilities and people at risk of stroke or a fall, to continue to live at home whilst having access to round the clock support in case of difficulties or incidents. The technology and response service results in earlier interventions in the event of an incident, whilst also assisting them in their re-ablement following a hospital stay. This generates significant efficiency savings in the delivery of local health and social care services.

 

Policy context – how does technology support commissioner priorities?

By introducing technology enabled care services, such as telecare, into adult social care commissioning strategies, evidence supports the following benefits: 

 

 

Delivers efficiencies

 

Drives quality of care

 

Prevention & early intervention

 

Improves outcomes

 

Tailors care to specific needs

 

Promotes social inclusion

 

Supports carers

 

Supports independence

 

 

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