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Digital innovation in adult social care: how we've been supporting communities during COVID-19

Digital technologies have a significant contribution to make in social care, but pressures on funding are limiting the ability of councils to innovate at scale or to move beyond one-off funded projects.

That’s a key finding of a report by the Institute of Public Care, commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS). Digital innovation in adult social care: how we’ve been supporting communities during COVID-19 - executive summary

The Institute worked with councils to catalogue examples of digital innovation in social care, analyse factors that contributed to success, and consider changes that would sustain momentum, support new approaches to learning, and inform new ways of working.

The report is timely, coming as the COVID-19 pandemic adds to the funding pressures on local government, and with the health and social care sector making repeated calls on government to ease the financial burden and address long term funding and reform of adult social care.

Councils have been adapting to new challenges to protect vulnerable people and ensure they continue to receive personalised care and support. This report offers councils a snapshot of recent digital innovation across local government, sharing experience that can be used to promote and stimulate continued progress with local communities.

In looking forward, the report emphasises the need for effective leadership to embed digital innovation across political, strategic, and operational matters. It highlights the opportunity to harness the current enthusiasm, prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, to identify opportunities to deploy technology. It encourages working with communities to understand needs, to share experience across care organisations – public and private – and IT suppliers, to develop, measure, and make a difference with digital innovations.

At a national level, the report highlights key areas of work needed by government, in collaboration with other organisations such as the LGA and ADASS, to enable successful and sustainable innovation in adult social care. It advocates removing barriers to innovation that exist in national policy guidelines, and recommends that national government take advantage of the agility of local councils, and supports them in implementing digital projects that will enable people to live the lives they want to lead, through sustainable investment in people, communities, staff, and approaches.

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