As the care provider led organisation for adult social care tech and data, the Digital Care Hub sets out our priorities for national government in England and offers our support to develop this key area of activity.

  1. Put people at the centre of digital and data innovations
  2. Strengthen the digital infrastructure
  3. Support safe, appropriate data sharing
  4. Reinforce data protection and cyber security
  5. Develop the workforce’s digital skills


Digital technology and access to data can improve people’s well-being, tackle financial and workforce pressures in social care, and reduce the burden on the NHS.

It is one of the best tools we have for joining up health, care and support around individuals.   Rich data can help policymakers, commissioners and planners to predict and meet needs and monitor the impact of interventions.

As the adult social care sector continues to face funding and workforce shortages, we have the opportunity to use technology to do what technology can do and free up precious care workers’ time to support people’s wellbeing, independence and personal choices.  Digital transformation supports personal care – it does not replace it.

Opportunities for change

We want the next government to build on recent advances, accelerate and maintain the safe use of digital technology and data to support people to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

Our sector has already started that journey with central government’s support for national initiatives such as Digital Care Hub, Better Security, Better Care, Digitising Social Care, the Digital Skills Framework, the Care Data Matters Roadmap and the Cyber Security Strategy for Health and Social Care.

We have a real opportunity to speed up the pace of change, be ambitious and be positive.

Because digitisation has come later to the social care sector, we do not have the same technical debt issues as the NHS. As a result, we can develop genuinely interoperable systems which work across providers, and link with NHS, local authority and other voluntary sector partners.

We can also roll out tech and data developments in an efficient, consistent manner by providing national support on core elements such as data sharing standards, template policies, and training on data management and cyber security. This will reduce expenditure and duplication of effort across the 39,000 care provider locations in England. There are already some excellent models to build on including the Professional Records Standards Board (PRSB) and Digital Care Hub’s Better Security, Better Care programme.

Now is the time to recognise the potential for digital innovation in care to turbo charge transformation of services and create an environment where national and international innovators want to work with the social care sector across the UK.

Underlying principles

Digital transformation in social care needs to be grounded in what people drawing on care want:

  • to tell their story once and for information to be shared appropriately and safely to support their care
  • full access to their own records
  • transparency and control over what is being done with their data and by whom
  • guarantees that their records are safe, accurate and correctable
  • reassurance about the technical quality of the data handling and data protection arrangements.

Digital transformation needs to:

  • be codesigned and implemented in partnership with care provider organisations and care workers
  • work for all care provider settings and structures – including local micro-providers and large care groups, not-for-profit organisations and private sector companies.

Data sharing across health, care and support services needs to be built on a genuine partnership – including risk and cost sharing across the whole system. At present, arrangements are unbalanced, with the NHS having significantly higher investment levels and support for digital data sharing than social care.

Priority actions for Government

1.    Put people at the centre of digital and data innovations

Technology has the potential to transform social care if it is focused on the outcomes that people using that tech actually need and want, and if it is accessible to all.

Government can bring together the expertise of people drawing on care, tech suppliers, care workers and care providers to become global leaders in the field of social care tech.

The Government must:

  • Create a sector-led innovation hub where tech and software developers can share and coproduce solutions with people using care services and care providers, and where the role of consumer technology, such as mobile devices, can be explored.
  • Establish and support a National Advisory Group of people who draw on services and their families to inform and advise policymakers. This could be peer-led but supported by digital and data experts in social care – such as the Digital Care Hub.
  • Develop a ‘regulatory sandbox’ for testing new technology before it is used with people using care and the workforce.
  • Run a public awareness campaign about the use of digital technology and data in social care, including people’s rights, data protection and cyber security in conjunction with the office of the National Data Guardian.
  • Consistently involve care providers as equal partners in planning and implementing data and digital strategies (e.g. Shared Care Records), with Digital Care Hub as the route to care providers at national, regional and local level.
2.    Strengthen the digital infrastructure

Social care providers have rapidly increased their use of digital technology and data sharing systems – particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Current progress, however, is not consistent or fully connected. The whole sector needs to be supported to become and remain digitally mature.

The Government must:

  • Provide sustained funding for: purchasing, upgrading or transferring of tech and data systems; ongoing licences; expert support on choosing and using technology; training on how to make the most of tech and data.
  • Strengthen and sustain peer-led support by building on successful national, regional and local models such as Digital Care Hub’s Better Security, Better Care programme.
  • Enable all care providers to have access to fast broadband and a digital social care record system which is interoperable with NHS and social care data systems.
  • Support and require all commissioners of social care to build in the cost of tech investment, maintenance, licences, training, data protection and cyber security arrangements into fees.
  • Expand the Assured Suppliers List of software suppliers to include a wider range of tech and data systems, and require them to build in interoperability, automation and cyber security arrangements to their systems.
3.    Support safe, appropriate data sharing

Care providers are currently required to provide data to multiple local, regional and national data collection systems, with limited understanding of the operating context. They need to understand who is using it and how it is interpreted.

The NHS, local authorities and care sector use multiple systems that do not act with each other, leading to duplication, errors and repeated requests for information.

The Government must:

  • Co-design data standards with care providers and fund an implementation and support programme for the sector.
  • Enable role-based access to data so that all staff supporting an individual can access the data they require.
  • Reduce the data collection burden on social care providers by collecting data once and re-using it and by automating data collection as far as possible.
  • Generate and share data insights from different systems with care providers in order to monitor trends and improve the quality and effectiveness of care.
4.    Reinforce data protection and cyber security

Cyber security is a fundamental safeguarding issue for our sector. The Better Security, Better Care programme has increased awareness amongst care providers, but the threats to the sector continue to grow and evolve and more needs to be done to ensure health, care and tech suppliers ‘defend as one’.

The Government must:

  • Design and deliver the implementation plan for the National Health and Social Care Cyber Security strategy.
  • Codesign an effective national cyber incident response plan with the care sector and partners including the NHS, local authorities, software providers, police, government departments and citizens.
  • Expand the national, regional and local support programme (Better Security, Better Care) to provide free cyber security advice to all care and support providers – not just those regulated by CQC.
5.    Develop the workforce’s digital skills

All staff within social care need to understand how to: use technology; share, analyse and use data securely; and signpost people using care to advice on technology.

The Government must:

  • Incorporate digital and data skills training within an adult social care workforce strategy and consider a digital workforce passport that works across both the NHS and social care.
  • Develop digital career opportunities within the social care sector including data analytics, data dashboard development, and a care technologist role.


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Published 7 June 2024