It’s no secret that technology is revolutionising the way we live; the proof lies in widely discussed technological advances in the automotive, healthcare and engineering industries over recent decades.

The social care sector is also experiencing digital advances that are set to change the way people look for care services. The digital shift within the industry is helping communication and administration, and we're already seeing a positive impact on how care services and support are delivered to people with learning disabilities.

"Technological advances don’t just support the social sector when they’re already in the process of delivering care; they can also be beneficial one step before that."

Research has found that more than three quarters (78 percent) of organisations use digital technology as part of their services to improve care for people, and these organisations believe that this type of technology and these developments can help to provide a higher quality care service.

Here are some of the ways that technology is transforming social care and improving lives:

Improving communications

Digital technologies don’t only enhance communication between health and social care providers, but also between staff, the people they care for and their families. The innovative communication methods used could range from products specifically designed for deafblind people or technologies that support context-based learning, to the use of electronic care records and GP video conferencing.

For those who live independently at home but receive extra support, telehealth and telemedicine technology can often help people to communicate with their carers. Telehealth care services can range from the use of NHS apps to the monitoring of physiological conditions, meaning people can speak with a carer from home whenever they need without receiving full time care.

Technology in this sense is helping people with disabilities live independently for longer and, when they do need extra help and support, they can feel reassured that their carer or a doctor can soon be on hand.

Finding care services

Technological advances don’t just support the social sector when they’re already in the process of delivering care; they can also be beneficial one step before that. Technology to enable users to find tailored and personalised local care that can support their own or a loved one’s needs as best as possible is becoming a possibility.

Technology like this means that people looking for care have the option of a variety of care services, whether that’s adult day care centres, a visit from a carer a few times a week or full time care. In turn. this reduces the stress of finding a good care service as the technology is doing the hard work for them, quickly and efficiently finding them care providers who are local, who can provide the care they’re looking for and who are qualified and experienced in administering the care they need. The only action the person or their loved one needs to take is choosing a carer from the options provided.

Social care services that use technology can also be recognised for their level of speed and efficiency. When using an online service, users can submit a form detailing the care they’re looking for and receive responses quicker than they would with care providers that don’t use technology. For one user of Life co, the technology enabled her to submit the details of the care she wanted for her daughter via an online form and, within 48 hours, she had received responses and quotes back from five different care providers.

Real time reporting

It's a well known fact that there is a lot of paperwork to be completed by a care provider, and anything to make this easier will ensure that more time can be spent on giving hands-on care. The use of digital technologies to assist with reporting tasks is becoming more and more of a benefit to care agencies and residential homes; technology such as tablets can be used for a range of tasks, including care plans, health assessments and medication. From as soon as the person being cared for gets up in the morning to when they go to bed at night, it can be documented on the system in ‘real time’.

Care providers that utilise and implement technology effectively are able to take advantage of multiple benefits for themselves, their staff and the people they care for. However, not every member of staff will be competent in the use of technology so it’s beneficial for care providers to invest in training; this way, all staff will be able make the most out of the advantages digital technologies bring to health and social care services.

Receiving training and learning about different technologies that can help revolutionise the health and social sector should be seen as a good investment amongst care providers and services. When used correctly and efficiently, technology has the potential to transform the work that staff carry out as well as the lives of people with disabilities and learning difficulties needing care and their families.