Durham County Council: Supporting Care Services to Manage Information Safely

Durham County Council: Supporting Care Services to Manage Information Safely

Durham County Council’s Supporting the Provider Market team work closely with local social care services and partner organisations to support providers and help them improve their services. They offer a range of support to care providers and technology and innovation is a key part of that.

The technology and innovation strand of work includes support for providers to achieve and maintain ‘Standards Met’ or ‘Standards Exceeded’ for their annual Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) submission. The DSPT is a helpful self-assessment that care providers should complete to demonstrate they have good data and cyber security arrangements in place.

Durham have a full-time staff member dedicated to supporting care providers with the DSPT as well as NHSmail. Tracy Leckenby, who leads on this work says,

the DSPT is important as it gives assurance that providers meet the data and security standards for health and social care organisations, providing the council with confidence in this element of their service delivery. The Council also views NHSmail as a key tool for providers, as it enables secure communication across the health and social care system which is important when sharing confidential information.”

In addition to the support offered on the DSPT and NHSmail, the council works with providers to increase digital skills and provides opportunities for staff to access training to assist with this. They have also undertaken a large scale roll out of a remote monitoring/digital referral system and lead on pilots to help to explore innovative approaches to improve service delivery using the latest technology, working closely with care providers.

Durham support locally commissioned providers through their ‘Technology Innovation and Improvement Fund’. The latest round of funding gave providers an opportunity to apply for funding to help towards connectivity issues, hardware/software and falls prevention technology. To access the funding, providers need to have a valid DSPT in place to demonstrate they have good data management practices in place.

Tracy says “all of our local digital work with providers is having a positive impact in a number of ways. There’s increasing digital confidence across staff, improved capacity for care providers, an improved quality of service delivery, as well as seeing a reduction in falls and hospital admissions.

We’re also confident that our providers are storing information safely, with 100% of Care Homes now at ‘Standards Met’ accreditation on the DSPT.”

We feel that the DSPT is the foundation for a digital approach to social care service delivery. The DSPT helps our providers be on a level playing field with each other and can be referenced in any tender bid questions relating to data security and protection. Working closely with our local providers on their DSPT has also helped to further develop working relationships between Commissioners and the market.”

With the increase in care providers using digital care planning systems, Durham understand the importance of managing information securely. As Tracy explains,

“The DSPT gives the council confidence that providers are clear on their understanding and responsibilities of the necessity to have the data they hold secure and that they have the appropriate cyber arrangements in place, and up to date, to maintain security of information held.”

We will continue to support providers with innovation and technology and will utilise appropriate funding that is available to support with this.”

“Having a dedicated resource for DSPT and NHSmail has been key for us to allow a person to focus on the area and build up knowledge and expertise. Effective provider communication and engagement has been a critical part of the work”

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