Adult social care needs ‘technology-friendly commissioning’ from councils

Councils should help the care sector invest in more technology if they want people to live well in their homes, according to disability campaigners.

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), whose membership includes voluntary and not-for-profit care organisations believes commissioning practices must keep pace with technological change to ensure people receive quality home care.

The disability group is calling on local authorities to commission services based on ‘outcomes’ rather than fixed hourly rates to give care providers the confidence to invest in technologies, which it says can improve quality of life and cut long-term social care costs.

Remote personal trainers in smart watches, movement sensors to stop people falling, finger print–based door entry systems and even apps that launch instructional videos when placed near appliances such as a kettle, can all make living at home an easier experience.

The report coincides with the Department for Communities and Local Government Social Care Inquiry which is calling for evidence on innovative approaches to the design and delivery of adult social care, including through the use of technology.

VODG finds digital technology is enabling people using care and support services to exercise greater choice, control and autonomy and to live more safely.

VODG chief executive Professor Rhidian Hughes said: “Digital technology offers opportunities to improve how we support people both at home and in residential care, how we communicate with people with specific communication needs and how we enable people to remain as independent as possible while managing the risks.”

The VODG report details how Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) has developed a TV set-top box communication system called SMaRT Messenger which allows support staff, friends and family to send text, image and video messages directly to a service user’s TV without interfering with their normal TV viewing.

SMaRT Messenger allows support staff to communicate more efficiently and effectively with users of services. Friends and family can also download a free app and deliver their own messages directly.

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