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Senior woman with female caregiver

Two national care bodies have joined forces to make recommendations to government, the health, care and housing sectors and the technology enabled care (TEC) industry on the role of assistive technology in a reformed adult social care system.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the TEC Services Association (TSA) have set up a commission to explore how better access to assistive technology could improve joint working between health, social care and housing and offer more preventative, responsive support, shaped around the individual.

Iain MacBeath, Strategic Director of Health and Wellbeing at City of Bradford Metropolitan District and ADASS Honorary Treasurer, said: “We set up this Commission because of a recognition by directors of adult social services that more needs to be done to integrate technology with social care. We bolt it on the side of services but rarely commission anything integrated or innovative and this just can’t continue.

“Over the next 25 years, the number of 85-year-olds will double, and all people will expect technology to play a crucial role in supporting individuals. This Commission will encourage local authority leaders to procure social care services in a different way so they lead the process and technology manufacturers can respond and invest appropriately.”

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The commission will bring together influential figures from adult social care, health and housing, including local authority directors of adult social services, chief executives from councils, care and housing bodies and leaders from NHSX, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Local Government Association (LGA).

The voice of service users will be represented by Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) and a number of leading technology suppliers will also join the commission.

Chaired by internationally renowned Spanish health care leader, Rafael Bengoa who is Co-Director of The Institute for Health & Strategy in Bilbao, Spain, the commission will hear evidence on effective models of technology enabled care via UK and international best practice case studies.

Alyson Scurfield, CEO of TSA, commented: “Over the last few months, technology enabled care has been a lifeline, improving people’s quality of life during very difficult times and supporting individuals to self-manage their own health.

“We want to build on this normalisation of technology and create a roadmap for improving social care through more innovative and informed commissioning of digital solutions.

“We hope that this Commission also gives the technology industry impetus to invest their resources in developing solutions that are unwaveringly focused on improving outcomes for individuals.”

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senior man with care worker at home

In March 2021, the commission will launch its final report, which will include a series of practical recommendations to central and local government on how to scale up and mainstream the use of everyday devices, data insights and specialist technology to extend people’s healthy lifespans and enrich their lives.

Rafael Bengoa, Chair of the Commission and Co-Director of The Institute for Health & Strategy in Bilbao, added: “In many countries, Covid-19 has exposed a disconnected and inefficient social care system. This, combined with a rapidly growing older population, calls for a significant change in the way social care services are planned and commissioned.

“Digital health and social care have filled the gaps during the pandemic and the Commission seeks to pull together this knowledge to make it easier and quicker to adopt, spread and scale innovations with the aim of creating a more preventative UK social care system.”

ADASS is a charity, based in England, which aims to promote higher standards of social care services and influence policies and decision makers to transform the lives of people needing and providing care. The membership is drawn from serving directors of adult social care employed by local authorities and their direct report.

In July 2020, ADASS published a report, which set out nine crucial statements to help shape an adult social care reform in the UK.

The report says that prioritising access to assistive technology will enable people to live independently and stay connected, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TSA is a representative body for technology enabled care (TEC) services across the UK, working on behalf of and advising organisations including telecare and telehealth service providers, suppliers, housing associations, care providers, emergency services, academia, charities, government bodies and health and social care commissioners.

Also in July this year, the TSA published a sector insights report that explores the TEC sector and how it has provided support to the wider health and care system during the early months of the response phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drawing on best practice examples during the pandemic, the TSA recommends that the TEC sector moves towards proactive preventative telecare services in a bid to ease pressure off the health and social care sectors.

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