Written evidence submitted by CASPA (DHS0017)
This response is submitted on behalf of the Care Software Providers Association (CASPA), an independent association representing the views and interests of social care software providers.
CASPA was founded to improve the lives of those receiving and providing social care and aims to promote the growth of the use of digital technologies in the social care sector. CASPA believes that this will improve the quality of patient experience, specifically through advocacy of the North Star Principles.
The principles state that digital systems rolled out to social care must:
The Expert Panel’s Commitment Grid references the Government’s commitment to create a national digital workforce strategy. However, there is only a passing reference to the social care sector in this regard – and is the only time that social care is specifically mentioned throughout the entire document. The near-total omission of social care from the document is illustrative of the way that the Government has historically approached social care, and CASPA would recommend that the Government urgently take steps to reconsider this approach to effectively understand the skills and workforce issues specific to the sector.
Although CASPA acknowledges the wider importance of a digitisation strategy for the NHS, we would stress that it is important that social care receives its own attention and receives its own specific lines of inquiry. Failure to do so risks implementing changes that will be difficult to unpick, and threaten making technological capabilities worse for the sector rather than to improve quality of care. It is fundamental that we change the way we view and approach social care, so it so it benefits the patient and the sector more broadly.
In CASPA’s view, digital transformation is too often viewed through a ‘NHS-first’ lens, with no recognition of the extensive, unique and different strands of social care. Long-term sustainability of social care is dependent on having the right digital foundations in place, but as a result of the NHS-centric approach, social care has routinely had policies and digital solutions imposed upon it that do not always work in the sector’s best interest. CASPA would recommend that when considering the potential of a digital workforce strategy, that the social care workforce is given sufficient prominence, which reflects the size and breadth of the workforce and the services offered in the system.
Policy area: Cost and efficiency of care
Giving social care sufficient focus and accounting for its intricacies would be hugely beneficial to the wider health system, and could lead to huge savings and efficiency improvements if the existing market was effectively utilised by Government stakeholders.
Social care is far more cost effective than the NHS and provides many options to reduce operating costs, including intermediate care and reducing the need for NHS services through greater technology in social care. A modest investment in social care could provide savings to the NHS many times in excess of the cost.
There already exists a robust digital social care market, that cares about and deeply understands the UK care sector. With digital transformation happening at a record pace and with complex commissioning and reporting structures, there is a risk that transformation can result in massively expanded costs, and increased workloads for care teams if not executed well.
While CASPA welcomes the Government’s commitment of £150 million for the digitisation of adult social care, CASPA remains concerned that the emphasis continues to be placed on and led by NHS digital transformation that does not reflect the nature of the social care system. It is therefore important that stakeholders with the knowledge of the well-functioning social care software market are involved in all discussions about health and social care software systems to avoid solutions that do not work in the best interests of the sector.