Foreword from Group Director of People, Darlington Borough Council
This strategy is an ambitious programme. It sets out a vision for digital capabilities that meet the range of needs of our community and workforce. This will support and enable effective service delivery.
Through the use of technology we will support people to;
access to the information they need to make choices about their care and support
engage with us in a way and at a time that suits them
enable users of Adult Social Care services to have more access and ownership of their records
support staff to have the tools, systems and equipment they need to do their jobs.
We will improve outcomes for people and allow better co-ordination of care across the NHS and Social Care. Working with teams, services, residents, carers and other organisations we will look at opportunities to;
provide greater accessibility through digital tools
Being Digital is about enabling and encouraging those who can use digital and online tools to do so. It is not about replacing our services with digital only options.
Making services available digitally can bring about many benefits;
saving time and effort by making services available at a time suitable to users
providing quick and appropriate channels when we are contacted for advice and support.
We are committed to user involvement, at every stage, and to continually develop and improve on what we have.
This Digital Strategy, through digital innovation and the use of technology, will help us
achieve the best possible health and wellbeing outcomes
support people to live independent and fulfilling lives in their own homes and communities
provide the highest-quality care
We aim to create a friendly town where Children & Adults THRIVE;
Together and Inclusive
Health and Safe
Resilient and Strong
Independent and Innovative
Valued and Respected
Educated and Aspirational
Through this vision we will work together with residents, partners, and communities to enable the citizens of Darlington to;
maximise their independence and wellbeing
have care and support when they need it
empower them to contribute to and feel valued in their communities
There are four key areas in delivering the vision:
We want to empower and support people to do more for themselves through online self-service. Thus will include needs and financial assessments and real-time information about services. We want to signpost people to services available in the wider community and how to access them.
By implementing assistive technology support packages we will support our vulnerable service users who might have online accessibility issues.
Our ethos around care and support is putting the cared-for individual at the centre of the decision-making process. Person-centred care helps;
maximises the choice of the individual
build upon existing strengths and abilities.
This approach also needs to be reflected in the way that we design our digital products. Users need to be involved in the lifespan of all major projects with a customer focus, and iteration of existing products should be led as much by user testing as it is by the needs of the business.
We want to empower and support staff to use digital tools to create efficiencies and improve service delivery. For example;
agile working staff
digital contacts with people
video assessments to reduce visits
artificial intelligence to manage routine tasks
Our staff are the most important factor in our success at delivering high quality care and support. It’s said that the one constant factor in local government is change. This is shown nowhere better than Adult Social Care & Health. We expect our workforce to adapt to new legislation, continuing professional development and restructures within the department, the council and the wider health and care sector.
Additionally, we are now asking staff to familiarise themselves with a host of technologies, the merits of which may not be immediately clear. Very few people get into social care because of their passion for digital.
It is imperative that when we consider introducing new technology into social care settings, we commission, design and test with practitioners in mind if they are expected to be end users, or if they are advocating it for client usage. We also need to ensure that there are clear expectations about how we expect staff to work and the support and training available to them to enable them to work in the way required.
We also need to acknowledge that there are groups of staff who continue to use paper resources, either due to perceived convenience or historical work practices. Getting our staff to use digital to its full potential will take more than just pointing out its advantages; it will also involve, in some areas of the business, a wholesale change in culture.
We want to support and enable care providers to use technology, to change the way services are delivered, to improve efficiency and to reduce errors, travel time and risks.
Within Adult Social Care (ASC), much of the delivery of care and support services is done through third-party providers. These range from large organisations with a national profile right the way through to sole operators. Within such a diverse group, it is inevitable that the ability to purchase, train, use and evaluate digital technologies covers a wide spectrum.
This strategy does not seek to impose uniform standards on providers. We would not expect a lone personal assistant to abide by the same standards as a large housing association. What we do envisage is that all our providers are comfortable with the technologies appropriate to their situation and that they can be confident at referring their clients to take up our digital offer.
Social care and Health achieve better outcomes when they work together. The Integrated Care Boards (ICB) has a key role in setting out a common vision and purpose. Being Digital sets out our vision for digital social care services that closely align with ICB digital ambitions and makes full use of shared technology investment.
The division between health and social care is not always obvious, especially to members of the public. That is why we need to promote the notion of ‘no wrong door’ – if a service user/person coming to us has their needs best served by healthcare partners, and vice versa, they are referred to the correct destination without complication. To achieve this aim of a seamless service, digital has a role to play to ensure that systems can communicate with each other.
A person should not have to tell the same story repeatedly. Whilst observing best practice around privacy and data security, partners should be able to share and update client information with the expectation that it can be easily stored and accessed on each other’s’ recording systems.
Find out about the opportunities the digital strategy offers.