NHS Digital has awarded £4.5 million in funding to 16 projects run by local authorities and charities to use digital technology in adult social care.
The Social Care Digital Pathfinders grant is aimed at a large scale roll-out of products and services that have already been piloted in local areas.
The projects will now move into a 13-month implementation phase with a focus on standardising information and developing digital ways of sharing it between multiple organisations.
Health Minister Nicola Blackwood said: “Bridging the technology gap between the NHS and social care is a central part of achieving a health and care service that is fit for the future.
“This £4.5 million investment will support local areas to improve information sharing across services, ensuring people avoid hospital unless absolutely necessary and helping everyone live independently for longer.”
NHS Digital highlighted a project involving South Gloucestershire Council and the London Borough of Sutton, which is developing a "digital red bag’" for care homes to support the continuity of care. It involves providing access to local health and care record portals and allowing information to be shared by GPs, hospital and other local organisations.
It also pointed to Wirral Council’s efforts to scale up the digital discharge process for hospital patients, sending information directly to a local authority’s social care system ahead of discharge and when there is a change in circumstance. This is aimed reducing delays in the transfer of care, re-admissions and the number of medical outliers.
Other organisations to receive support are Bexley Council, Bristol City Council, Friends of the Elderly, Hft (learning disabilities charity), Islington Council, Lancashire County Council, Leicestershire County Council, National Care Forum, Manchester City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Westminster City Council, Wolverhampton City Council and Worcestershire County Council.
Pam Garraway, senior responsible officer for the Social Care Programme at NHS Digital, said: “What makes it so exciting is the fact that these projects aren’t working in isolation, as they perhaps would have done in the past. They are working collectively to drive standards and solve problems, which is why we are confident that all of the pathfinder projects can be replicated easily.
“This isn’t just about best practice pilots. Once this work is finalised, we fully expect areas will be able to go out and use these products and implement them locally – safe in the knowledge that they are tried and tested.”