How technology is shaping the adult social care sector in 2022

According to the NHSX Adult Social Care Technology and digital skills review published towards the end of 2021, ‘Digital technologies have tremendous potential to improve social care.’

Exploring the current use and effectiveness of digital technology in adult social care – the review highlights the overall digital capabilities of the workforce and the current provision and outcomes of learning and development processes.

The research team spoke with a wide range of stakeholders like care workers, people with care and support needs, unpaid carers, local authorities, regulated care providers and technology suppliers including our team at Unique IQ!

In general, the research presents an optimistic outlook for the future of digital technology in the adult social care sector, with workers feeling overwhelmingly positive about the role of technology in the workplace.

Digital technologies have tremendous potential to improve social care. They can extend the services on offer, giving people greater independence and control over their care and are proven to help support well-being. They can free up the time care workers now spend on administration tasks for more face-to-face care. And they can help care providers to operate more efficiently, so they can do more to look after those they support and their employees.

Executive Summary – NHSX Adult Social Care Technology and digital skills review

Of the participants surveyed, 80% of the workforce believed that digital technology is important to the sector, with similar numbers agreeing that technology improves the wellbeing of those requiring care and helps get the job done more efficiently.

Encouragingly, there was openness from the workforce to use digital technology more, with 61% of frontline staff wanting to develop their skills using digital technology in the future.

The report also highlights a 68% increase in the use of technology in the workplace since the Covid-19 pandemic began, which parallels some of the findings of our study, ‘Transform: A decade of digital transformation in home care’ – that we launched last year.

Among all participants, the review found both general and group-specific barriers and enablers to the faster uptake of digital technologies.

21% of those surveyed suggested a lack of time was the most common barrier to accessing and learning digital skills, with 17% simply not knowing which skill to develop. Registered managers said the biggest gaps in digital skills of the frontline workforce included a lack of knowledge when operating digital devices and not knowing how to support care recipients with technology.

What are the barriers to adopting technology in the social care sector?

  • Variation in familiarity and opportunity to use digital technology
  • Awareness and knowledge about the range of digital technology available
  • Anxiety and stress generated by the introduction of new technology
  • A concern among some staff that digital technologies could replace face-to-face care and support
  • Budget pressures make organisations less inclined to invest in technology
  • Time need to upskill the workforce

What can we do to help home care providers accelerate in adopting technology?

  • Introducing new technology to the workplace with the appropriate level of planning and support. Our guide ‘Implementing care software’ is the perfect place to start!
  • Efforts should be made to raise knowledge and awareness of the role, availability and suitability of digital technology in the direct provision of care.
  • Digital leadership skills should be developed so that digital leadership becomes a ‘normal’ part of a leader’s role. 
  • A programme of myth-busting, reassurance and culture change is needed, alongside changes to ways of working that focus on informing and raising awareness of digital technology and communicating the benefits

There is much to be done to enable faster, more efficient uptake of digital technology in the care sector, yet this research shows the appetite and willingness of a wide range of stakeholders to take up the challenge. By working in concert, care providers, frontline workers, technology partners and local authorities can improve social care for all.

Want to read more about managing software implementation in a home care business? Check out our comprehensive project implementation page.