Does Digital Technology Have a Place in Social Care?

By John Smith

Digital technology is fast becoming an integral part of healthcare. In fact, harnessing technology and innovation is a key factor in the NHS’ plan for the future, and has been since 2014. Despite the plans for a gradual integration of devices within the healthcare sector, the Covid-19 pandemic saw the drive for technology advance at a rapid rate. By April of 2020, 48% of GP appointments were conducted remotely, either by telephone or video call. 

Now, it looks like the tech is here to stay. 90% of healthcare professionals expressed plans to continue using devices the same way they had during the pandemic. Not only that, it is advancing at a phenomenal speed once again. But what can these devices do that hospital staff can’t?

When we talk about technology in any workplace, there is always the fear that machines will ‘replace’ the workforce. This is simply not the case. Technology enhances the way we work, even if that means the little things like communicating with a colleague or storing an important note for later reference. We need to start thinking of tech as more of a means to reinforce our work than anything else, especially in the context of healthcare.

Social Care

Medical care does not just take place on emergency wards or A&E departments. Social care is a huge part of the sector that is often not considered in the conversation, but that does not mean that technology is any less important within care homes or when discussing caring for patients at home.

Social workers can benefit from technology in much the same way that staff in large hospitals can. Social care is particularly interesting to discuss because of the implications of the ways in which patients can use devices for their own care. 


Efficiency is key in healthcare. Workforces can benefit from the integration of technology via the streamlining of important processes. For example, medical records can be stored and shared securely – accessed with the touch of a button – improving staff hand-overs while also ensuring that important information is up-to-date for every member of the team.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can aid professionals in procedures such as prescribing medications. With digital technology, machine learning can process a patient’s symptoms, past records of care and any other relevant information, in order to choose the correct medication for that particular individual.


It is not just care home staff that benefit from technology being integrated into healthcare, but also patients, at home or inpatient. Smartwatches and fitness trackers are now commonly used alongside apps that allow patients to monitor their own vitals and send relevant information to those responsible for their care. This results in saved time for patients and professionals alike. 

Technology can also provide independence to those who might not otherwise be able to perform certain tasks without assistance. A recent white paper from the UK government, People at the Heart of Care: Adult social care reform, shared Charlotte’s story. With limited mobility as the result of a stroke, being provided with an iPad gave Charlotte a means of communication with the people around her, as well as giving her control of household items such as lighting and fans in her room that she would not have been able to interact with before. 

Digital Exclusion

When discussing technology in social care, it is also important to consider the people who may be unable to use devices as comfortably as others might. Social care often involves the care of elderly and/or disabled patients. Age UK recently found that more than 40% of those aged 75+ do not use the internet at all. Furthermore, 14.9% of those with disabilities in the UK have never used the internet according to the Office for National Statistics.

It is not just the patients that might struggle with the continued integration of technology in social care. Care home staff often report bad internet connection at work, and despite the want for more devices in care homes, 40% of providers stated concerns that care home staff simply did not have the digital skills to use technology to its full potential. 

Is Digital Technology Enough?

While the integration of technology is a big step in and of itself, sometimes it is simply not enough to get the devices into hospitals and care homes. The development of digital skills needs to be another part of the integration in order for it to work to a worthwhile extent.

The UK government has expressed its commitment to the improvement of broadband in care homes across the country while also delivering comprehensive digital training for staff. 

Meanwhile, hospital trusts in Haringey came together during the pandemic to fund a project helping those with limited digital skills to access online appointments. Doctors were able to refer patients to the programme if they felt the patient could benefit from training.

The Future of Social Care

Despite the difficulties that have made themselves clear since the speedy technological advancements through the pandemic, it is clear that the pros far outweigh the cons. Furthermore, the setbacks currently being experienced within social care are in the process of being addressed and will (hopefully) be a distant memory in a few years’ time. 

When technology is embedded into care seamlessly – using the correct training and coordination – it can be transformative for its users. The support that devices like iPad provide to patients, carers, and medical professionals could change the future of healthcare forever. With governments, volunteers and tech providers all willing and ready to provide training to those who need it, that future is well within reach. 

Kingsfield have been serving the Public Sector for over 25 years – with a commitment to creating best in class IT solutions for organisations across the UK. Find out more about the work we do within the healthcare sector and get in touch with our team today.

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