Presentation with thanks to Paul Taylor
I was delighted to be invited by Zoe Pedden creator of the innovative MyChoicePad to share thoughts about Technology in Social Care: Innovation in Adversity at the Wayra UnLtd and Insane Logic Digital Mouthpiece. The event was live streamed and there was a lively discussion on the #innovatecare hashtag.
There are too few opportunities for robust debate about the need for a long term revolution which challenges the traditional institutional models of care. I believe we have to disrupt the current care market because it is just not fit for purpose.
The report today about patients living with dementia being restrained by security guards in hospitals does not give me confidence about the dignified and respectful care we provide for our most vulnerable members of society.
My Long Term Care Revolution paper for Innovate UK highlighted the reality that living longer does not feel like a celebration when care options in later life do not reflect our aspirations and experience of living in a digitally connected world.
In 2013 Nominet Trust published my Provocation Paper exploring the question “Can online innovations can enhance social care?” The simple answer is yes but digital technology on it’s own is not the solution. Technology cannot fix broken systems and digital cannot be just a bolt on or optional extra – digital transformation has to be at the heart of every organisation.
Technology and tools help us navigate an increasingly complex world but they will never replace human creativity, empathy and intuition. We have to understand both the potential and the limitations of what digital technology can offer.
We certainly need better ways to collaborate, signpost, and share knowledge. Connected Care is important to make sense of a complex and fragmented landscape. Innovation in adversity has to involve care, health, housing, entrepreneurs, the technology industry, innovation funders, the wider social sector, citizens and whole communities.
We seem to have a deficit of imagination about how to build and support the strengths and assets within communities. How can we use technology to support citizens to live more fulfilling lives connected with the people, ideas and activities which are so important to each of us?
In 2013 I asked the question Digital Technology and care – how do we promote more connected thinking?
There is so much potential for digital technology to enable people to make new connections, contribute to person-centred support, develop community networks and new models of care so an obvious question is what is stopping more widespread adoption?f
There is no shortage of innovations in digital technology and millions of pounds are being spent supporting further developments. It is less clear about the application, impact and usage of these innovations. One problem is the limited awareness in the sector and amongst the public about what is available and it’s value. I believe that a big deficit is the lack of a strategic approach to embedding digital technology in the range of options to support people to live more fulfilling lives.
- Convene a roundtable for all the funders of digital technology to explore collaboration, sharing practice and a common approach to evaluating and promoting the outcomes and impacts of their investment.
- Provide signposts which enable care recipients, their families and carers to find out what technology products and services are available, both through statutory services or to purchase independently.
- Create, promote and participate in events that showcase innovations in care which could be adopted by local authorities, the NHS and housing providers.
- Map all of the digital community hubs (however defined) which are available to ensure that people have access to local resources. This would also identify areas where there is currently no support available.
- Benchmark levels of awareness about technology innovations across the care sector and work with key players to promote and share the benefits of innovation.
Are we making progress? Despite millions of pound given in grants for innovation and digital inclusion, endless reports, numerous conferences and a recognition that digital technology is an integral part of our lives I sometimes feel I am living in a parallel universe to the Ageing Better industry …..
David Wilcox is an intrepid social reporter who has written extensively about Living Well in the Digital Age. He helpfully highlighted that there is no mention in the recent strategy of the Centre for Ageing Better about technology and digital innovation.
From the Big Lottery Fund £82 million investment in Ageing Better to the £50 million endowment creating the Centre for Better Ageing and the diverse Nesta programs it seems there is a proliferation of partnerships exploring how to embed innovation in care but the jury is out about their impact. Maybe the recently launched Innovate UK £4 million Long Term Care Revolution national challenge will provide some answers?
The “Ageing” sector is a complex and fragmented multi million pound industry involving hundreds of organisations and millions of potential beneficiaries. How often have you asked if your your product or service could be improved and made assumptions about the problems people really need help solving?
I welcome your ideas about how we can shift from yet more research and reports to innovation with practical and useful outcomes which will improve the quality of life for older people now and in the future! My #AgeingBetter dream encompasses personalised care driven by technology, smart homes with sensors, robot companions and driverless cars.
Looking 20 years ahead as baby boomers reach the age 80 plus we still have time to plan and get it right. But we have to move from rhetoric and reports to action now!