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Preparing for an ageing population: Emerging technologies in social care

15 April 2019

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Banner image from Media Planet, Future of Tech

Reported by Katie Cohen, CSaP Research Assistant


Populations are ageing in industrialised countriesthere will be two million more people over the age of 75 in the UK in the next ten years; the proportion aged 85 and over is projected to double over the next 25 years.
CSaP organised a roundtable discussion, hosted by Nesta, which brought together care sector experts, senior policy makers, practitioners, and researchers in the field to discuss what the care sector, NHS and government should do to speed up the development, evaluation and uptake of effective technologies for social care.

Why are we lacking a clear conversation about the benefits of new technologies to social care services? Posed at the start of the workshop, this question set the scene for exploring the many barriers to improving the care sector.

The emergence of digital, data and device opportunities could improve deployment of the workforce, strip unnecessary costs, allow for investment in frontline care workers, better align and promote collaboration of stakeholders, minimise unnecessary hospital admissions and other health events, and much more. Nonetheless, the sector's fragmentation and disconnect from the frontline and users impedes such integration.

Focussing on areas of debate, principles of good technology, and challenges to adoption spread, participants concluded key points crucial to improving evaluation and uptake of technologies for social care. Overall, it was agreed that clearer targetting of what systemic change is desired will be necessary for large scale improvements. This targetting can best be achieved through attention to issues of both supply and demand, sourcing brokerage and intermediaries, prioritising codesign and codelivery of technologies, defining the role of regulators, and reconsidering metrics used in social care to account for health outcomes rather than time spent.

A summary report of the workshop can be downloaded here.

Dr Malte Gerhold

Care Quality Commission