2023 - a year of exciting progress (thanks to our digital teams across the regions)

a handwritten note which says Thank you very much

With 2024 only a few days away it’s really inspiring to reflect on the progress that’s been made to embed digital ways of working into adult social care.

There’s a real sense of momentum and a growing awareness of how digital technology can support care and complement the role of the care professional to deliver safer, person-centred care.

None of this would be possible without the support of our adult social care digital leads. These are our virtual team members who sit in each of the 42 Integrated Care Board (ICB) areas.  They’re the people who have the local knowledge, who understand the challenges facing providers in their area and who work tirelessly to help providers make the most of the funding and support opportunities available to support their digital journey.

So as we reflect on 2023 and look forward to 2024 we wanted to turn the spotlight on some of the high points of the year across the regions.

Pride in seeing the difference digital can make to care

Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS shared a great piece of feedback from a   registered manager whose home received a Digital Social Care Record (DSCR) grant. It really illustrates how digital approaches can complement and enhance the way care is delivered:

“The new digital system has had a massive impact on my working day, as well as on the residents and staff. It allows staff much more time to spend with residents and to complete other duties, and the richness of data recorded on individual resident’s daily notes is amazing. It’s much more person centred than when we recorded on paper. Staff are given clear prompts to ensure all aspects of the individuals’ needs are met. I now have instant access to an individual’s care plan and daily notes, to search a record for the information I need, without having to go through endless paperwork, highlighting any areas of concerns that I need to follow up.” Natalie Heaven, Registered Care Home Manager. 

It's all about the people

Exploring the vast range of digital services can be a daunting challenge for care providers. Having someone that is empathetic, patient, and knowledgeable makes navigating options less scary. We’re so lucky to work with enthusiastic and knowledgeable people across all the ICS regions, people like Georgina from Suffolk and North East Essex ICS.

Over the past year she has worked to support three County Councils (Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk and Waveney), creating a team that supports care providers across the patch, and wider. As her manager told us, from first contact with a care provider, Georgina sets an optimistic tone by reducing the anxiety of the unknown and illuminating the paths for decisions. 

The difference that people like Georgina make to support providers in their local area is summed up in this great endorsement  of her work:

“I appreciate that due process and vetting must be followed. But it doesn’t take a lot to be helpful. That is what you have been for me and my Swanton colleagues in the application process for our services in the Suffolk region. You are approachable, available and more than willing to help. In every conversation with you I know that this clearly extends beyond the workplace. I just want to say a big “thank you” Gina.” Marcus Taylor – IT Director, Swanton Care & Community

Reaping the benefits of going digital

2023 has definitely been the year when many of the providers we have supported with funding have started to see the benefits of going digital. Alex Gavriilidis, Strategic Commissioning Lead at Dorset Council shares some insights on what this looks like in his region:

“2023 was a pivotal year in DSCR adoption for Dorset ICS. It has been the year where Adult Social Care providers who were helped to introduce a DSCR into their settings, started realising the real-life benefits of this.

 We felt very proud when we hosted Alice Ainsworth (Deputy Director for Social Care Tech Policy at the Department of Health and Social Care)  and arranged for her to visit a provider who recently went digital. Staff members spoke enthusiastically about the changes that the introduction of their chosen DSCR brought about, which extended beyond the usual areas of improved note keeping and faster access to information. After installing their DSCR, the provider started experiencing a general change of staff and resident’s attitudes towards technology. The home started including digital elements in more aspects of their care delivery. The highlight of this cultural shift was the production of a short movie, with residents taking charge in starring, directing, and editing the film, using digital tools.

 We’re excited to witness more and more providers testify to the benefits of using a DSCR and will continue to do our best to support them on their digital journey”.

Changing the paper-based culture

Paper-based record keeping has been part of how things are done in social care for many years.  Asking staff to embrace such a huge change and adopt digital ways of working is not to be underestimated!  But as more and more providers make that leap we’re seeing some really tangible benefits emerging.  Reductions in stationery spending is one obvious benefit but there’s some benefits that paper just can’t offer, such as voice to text functionality (available through all of the solutions which have been assured by us) which means staff who may struggle with writing up notes have a more accessible way of capturing them (we’ll be sharing more about these and other benefits in the new year).

The team at NHS Devon ICB sent us this video case study on Merafield Nursing Home’s move from paper to DSCR.  It highlights the way that the change in working culture needs to be managed and the support that might need to be given to less digitally savvy staff.

Making steps towards better information sharing between social care and health

This year also saw an increasing number of providers being able to take advantage of the ability to access GP information via their DSCR.  We’re working towards ensuring data flows seamlessly across systems so that it’s available wherever a person is to ensure they receive safe, personalised care.

Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK)  Health and Care partnership now have 80 care homes in their area using Proxy Access to order their medications more safely and quickly online at any time of the day or night. It’s been a game changer as Claire Croucher, Registered Manager of Precious Homes explains: “It’s increased productivity and made things much easier. It’s increased communication and relationships with the GP surgery, and it reduces time wastage, medication errors and staff stress levels.” 

Prevention, independence and support through technology

Did you know that there are over 150 projects currently funded through our ICS partners aimed at piloting and scaling care technology?  Many are looking at how technology (and in some cases AI)  can support care professionals in anticipating and preventing falls, the biggest reason for hospital admissions. 

One great example of the type of work currently underway across all 42 regions is also taking place in the BLMK ICS area.  They’re piloting acoustic monitoring using a Wi-Fi-enabled device to recognise unusual night-time sounds and movements before alerting carers to investigate. The project supports 300 residents across 12 local care homes and it’s already proven to help prioritise care towards those most in need, while reducing the disturbances caused by routine checks. One home has seen night-time unwitnessed falls reduce by 31% over eight months, and A&E attendances have reduced by 6% across the area – saving £3,113 based on the average cost for this cohort. 

Is 2024 the year you make the change and embrace digital?

If you have not yet chatted to your local ICS team about the support and funding that’s available to make that leap why not make 2024 the year you pick up the phone and make that call. 

There’s lots of support available to help you, from webinars where you can hear from providers how have already digitised, access to funding, help in choosing the right solution for you and support to make sure your team has the digital skills in place to make the most of the new technology.

Here’s the link to find out who to contact in your area.

And don’t forget to bookmark our website, it’s got loads of info just for providers on how to move to digital.  There’s even a handy tool to help you work out where to begin.


Thank you to all of our digital teams across the 42 ICSs – your enthusiasm, energy, local knowledge and focus in supporting providers to make most of digital innovation is hugely appreciated.  

See you for more of the same in 2024!