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Providers warned to plan for costs of care home digital reform

Providers may face moderate short-term costs to deliver the digital capabilities required for adult social care reform, the DHSC has said in analysis of the impact of adult social care system reform.

In a statement of impact for the white paper, People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform, the DHSC makes clear that the three-year £150 million digitalisation funding may not cover all costs of aspects including installation and unit costs of technology, costs of upgrading infrastructure like Wi-Fi, cost of training for staff and cost of devices.

Analysis of care home connectivity showed that 62 per cent were using slow internet connections not suitable for the needs of a small business; that 1.5 per cent care homes have at best poor connections available in their geographic area, and up to 7.6 per cent may have had no internet connection at all.

The Government has set an ambition for at least 80 per cent of CQC registered providers to have a digital social care record in place by March 2024, however, currently only half this number have a digital social care record. The impact statement estimates that use of technology can release up to 20 minutes per care worker, per shift.  

The impact statement also reiterates government’s ongoing consideration of forcing CQC registered providers to publish their fee rates, and to work with the CQC to place requirements on care providers to have an appropriate skill set in their workforce and to support workforce wellbeing.

The impact statement admits that, given the ongoing fluctuating impact of Covid and associated NHS pressures on the health and social care systems, the system may struggle with capacity to implement the immediate proposed reforms. The statement explains: “There is a risk that the expectation for many complex reforms at once is too much for the system to handle. Social care reform is considered a shared endeavour. The reforms will continue to be designed working with the sector.”

  • The need for a long-term strategy for the adult social care workforce has been discussed by MP lobby group, APPG on adult social care. The briefing proposed a range of solutions for the social care workforce problems including sector specific minimum wage provisions and skill standards, professional registration and greater access to overseas workers. Centring on two reports on the sector – The value of investing in social care and the Adult Social Care APPG’s Value and Vision of Social Care Report – the briefing also called for “careful handling” of social care financial reform and highlighted that the conversation about social care should shift away from cost towards the value of the sector to society as a whole.


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