We have previously written on this blog about the growing use of technology in the social care sphere, and how existing tech can be adapted and developed in particular for use in the care of the elderly. Now, an open letter has been written to the Prime Minister urging him to prioritize funding for the development of technology in the social care sector (see here for a copy of the letter ). The letter is written by PainChek, a medical technology company and is supported by various social care bodies such as Care England, the National Care Forum and the National Care Association. The letter emphasises that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the country’s biggest “silent killer” and seriously affect the lives of many people.
The letter also notes that in 2015 the Conservative government under David Cameron issued the Dementia Challenge 2020 report which aimed to make England the world leader in dementia care by 2020. Since the issue of that report of course, an unforeseen global pandemic has affected every country in the world. But the last 12 months have certainly shown the English social care system is fragile, lacking in funds and resources. Despite far more public awareness of the problems social care faces, there appears to be little appetite to put funding into the sector. Even the recent Budget did not make any mention of further funding for social care – surprising somewhat given the spotlight on social care during the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that Boris Johnson promised reforms of the sector nearly two years ago.
The focus on more funding for technology in the care of the elderly is certainly a move in the right direction, but only a small part of the solution to the problems that social care faces. As we have previously reported, any implementation of technology in social care needs to be carefully considered as to whether it is appropriate for each user and fit for purpose. There is a risk that if technology is relied upon inappropriately, this could lead to further issues including claims or statutory investigations against care providers where service users have suffered injury.