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New report calls for DHSC to do more to bring digital transformation to care sector

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A new report by Public Policy Projects (PPP) has outlined a series of measures for government, care providers and key stakeholders to digitally transform the social care sector.

Key findings

  • Key social care experts have called for more positive engagement for digital suppliers as social care continues to lag behind other key sectors in digital transformation.
  • The uptake and impact of digital technology in social care remains uneven, reflecting the fragmented nature of the sector.
  • PPP puts forward a series of recommendations for key central organisations (such as DHSC, NHS and CQC), as well as for local authorities and integrated care systems, to support and prioritise digital transformation in social care.


PPP’s new report comes amid unprecedented service pressure and demand across health and care, in part caused by a fragmented care sector that has yet to fully harness digital tools to transform care delivery.

Among the report’s key recommendations are calls for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to establish a new board and forum for all stakeholders involved in the digital transformation of the care sector. The forum and board, designed to mirror similar structures DHSC currently uses for its rare diseases engagement, will facilitate better communication and help improve understanding of the use of technology within a currently fragmented care sector.

The report, A care system for the future: How digital development can transform adult social care, is chaired by former Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green MP and Senior Advisor to Care England, Daniel Casson. It provides a set of recommendations for DHSC, NHS, ICSs and local authorities to enable more effective digital transformation across the care sector, encouraging greater usage of digital social care records (DSCRs), the shared care record (ShCR), assistive technologies, improving workforce capabilities and discouraging digital exclusion among those in receipt of social care.

The Covid-19 pandemic prompted significant digital transformation is occurring across social care, but this transformation still lags behind other comparable sectors and the NHS. However, the fragmented nature of the sector, with its thousands of individual care providers and competing digital suppliers, makes widespread transformation more challenging – meaning that the benefits of digital transformation are not being felt evenly.

A care system for the future highlights the need for increased usage of DSCRs across all care institutions, particularly for domiciliary care. Consistent digital social care recording will also aid the integration of health and care within ICSs via the ShCR. Once all social care providers can connect to the ShCR, more holistic, ICSs can enable more joined up and better-informed care provision.

PPP are also calling for DHSC to provide better support and encouragement for DSCR providers not currently on the NHSTD Assured Provider List, and for greater discussion of how best to ease the burden for health and care providers operating across multiple ICSs borders.

The report calls for individuals in receipt of domiciliary care to be encouraged to direct more of their personal budgets and direct payment allowances to procure assistive technology, which can increase independence and reduce the need for in-person carers where appropriate. To facilitate this, local authorities should produce a comprehensive guide of the available assistive technologies, so that individuals can make informed decisions about which technology to procure for their homes.

PPP’s report also emphasises the necessity of improving digital skills among those in receipt of care, in order to maximise the impact of digital technology in social care. Older and disabled people are among the most likely to be digitally excluded, often contributing to social isolation, loneliness and various associated poor health and wellbeing outcomes. Improving digital communication skills, allowing those in receipt of care to communicate with friends, family and others with shared interests, will improve the loneliness epidemic among older and disabled people in the UK.

In order to help maximise staff engagement with technology, A care system for the future stresses the importance of design simplicity. Additionally, the report calls for all care professionals to undergo basic digital training to upskill the workforce with basic digital skills to use electronic care recording, the most common assistive technology, and communication technology, as well as to undertake basic data collection.

The report also calls on DHSC to reconfigure and re-market the Care Workforce App, first launched in 2020, to connect and support the disparate care workforce.

Commenting on the report:

The Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Chair of the report: “Digital transformation across the care sector is occurring rapidly, bringing with it efficiencies and benefits that can improve quality of care. However, when applied incorrectly, digital tools and systems can alienate people in the sector and cause them to disengage with care technology and lose out on potential benefits

“This report contains several practical proposals which will ensure that the digital tools implemented across the adult social care sector will enhance the professional and personal lives of those impacted by the care system and improve the quality of care provided.”

Daniel Casson, MD of Casson Consulting (Encouraging Innovation in Social Care), Advisor to Care England said: “To give our system the best chance of supporting people we need to promote digital technology. We need to promote it to give people as much independence as possible and to free up carers (both professional and unpaid) to use their skills and time to enhance people’s lives.

“Digital transformation can provide value for people, for organisations, and for the health and care system, if we target it correctly. This report has nine very clear recommendations which give much food for thought.”

For more information on PPP’s social care policy programme, please contact Mary Brown at

Download the report here.