Theme 6: Ethical use of technology

About this theme

Use this guidance to understand the skills and training your organisation needs to use technology ethically by respecting people's privacy and choices. 

This video shows how a social care provider has made sure they are using technology ethically. 

1. Understand that people can be impacted by technology in different ways, and that technology should only be used with consent and to benefit people and protect and enhance their rights

Technology has the potential to make a positive difference for many people who draw on care, but it is important to remember technology will not be right for everyone and it can sometimes bring risks. For example, wearable devices may help to support independence and reassure family members, but they should not be misused to restrict a person’s right to privacy or be used against someone’s wishes.

Technology should only be used where there is a benefit to people and should protect people’s human rights. For example, technology should:

  • help to connect people, not isolate them
  • help to give people greater choice and control, not limit their choices or restrict their opportunity to make decisions about their care
  • enable the right people (e.g., staff, health and care professionals), to access the right information about a person, at the right time, to support quality care - not put people’s privacy at risk
  • help to support independence and safety, not restrict freedom or autonomy

2. Involve and support people to make informed choices on the use of technology for their care

It is important that people are supported to understand the benefits, disadvantages and alternatives to using technology for their care. Technology should always be used with informed consent, or in line with people’s previously expressed wishes or the wishes of their advocates. It is important that you know the steps involved in gaining informed consent.

3. Know how to respond if I have concerns technology may be negatively impacting someone or their rights

If you have concerns technology may be negatively impacting someone or restricting their rights, you should take appropriate steps to report concerns to a relevant person. This could be a senior member of staff, a carer or family member, or an external organisation.

Knowledge criteria Additional information Useful resources

4. Model good practice and lead discussions on the ethical use of technology within my organisation, including the importance of dignity, accessibility, informed consent and person-centred choices.

Supporting others to understand the importance of autonomy, privacy and dignity, and the rights of people who draw on care to make informed decisions about the use of technology (including how their personal data is collected and used) is key to ensuring technology is used ethically and in a person-centred way. It is also important that conversations about technology, and technologies themselves, are accessible to others.

You can support your colleagues by modelling good practice, for example, demonstrating conversations that help people to learn about and understand how technology may impact their care.

5. Inspire and drive a culture of ethical technology use and implementation, ensuring there are processes for putting people at the heart of decision-making at all stages.

The CQC’s ‘Caring’ and ‘Responsive’ questions and quality statements require that people are involved in decisions about their care, and this includes decisions about technology. It is important that your organisation has appropriate processes in place to promote and enable this, and that staff feel able and supported to discuss technology choices with people they are caring for.

6. Assess the benefits and drawbacks of technology, and provide direction on digital ways of working that promote a rights-based approach.

Having the ability to weigh up the benefits and drawbacks of technology, and put in place working practices that balance the advantages of technology for organisations with the need to respect people’s rights, wishes and preferences, is a key skill in digital leadership.

This includes:
Being transparent in how technology may be used (including how and why data may be collected, processed and shared), and ensuring that people who draw on care and their families are informed and involved in decision-making at all stages.

  • Conducting impact assessments prior to the introduction of new technology – see more from the CQC: ‘The impact of digital solutions and technology’;
  • Putting in place systems to monitor the impact on people following technology implementation.
  • Ensuring that people (staff, people who draw on care and families) can share feedback or raise concerns about how technology is used, and take appropriate steps to act on feedback.
Knowledge criteria Additional information Useful resources