Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator 2021 Officially Closes – With Great Success. 

Over the past 12 months, the Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator (SCDIA) has fast-tracked social care solutions to solve priority challenges facing local authorities across the country. The pandemic has had a significant impact on adult social care – face to face contact has been severely hampered and service delivery has been incredibly difficult – and as one of the areas where ‘digital’ had yet to really make a difference to front line services, the SCDIA proved key to driving innovation and collaboration in the sector. 

This year’s SCDIA involved 15 local authorities (and relevant partners) co-funding, co-designing, developing and implementing digital solutions across safeguarding, hospital discharge and looking at new ways to support people with learning disabilities. In an effort to drive innovation and make best use of public funds, the collaborative approach meant that councils could be part of progressive, innovative solution design and delivery, without needing to find the IT resource or 100% of the investment themselves.

The SCDIA was a fast paced programme which saw three significant solutions designed and delivered in just 9 months, virtually and in a pandemic to boot. Focusing on priority issues within social care – all suggested by councils themselves – sustainable digital solutions were built by expert technical partners, steered at all times by subject matter experts at the collaborating councils. 

The projects were identified from the 50 that were submitted by councils across England, each meeting the criteria of being a.) a gap in the market – ie, no digital solution existed to solve the challenge, b.) being a priority challenge to 20+ local authorities, and c.) that it could be developed and deployed in the accelerated time frame. 

The SCDIA was run by CC2i on behalf of the Local Government Association’s Social Care Digital Innovation Programme and benefited from match-funding from NHS Digital. Along with the councils and their partners it was a truly collaborative, successful and innovative programme. 

The three solutions which are now available for others to take up are: 

  • Multi Agency Safeguarding Tracker (MAST) 

MAST is a data driven solution that allows all partners with mandatory responsibility for safeguarding to securely share headline data, underpinned by a documented information governance structure. 

  • Hospital to Home – Digital Discharge to Assess (D2A)

Hospital to Home offers case management and tracking functionality, allowing users from multiple organisations to create, update and track D2A cases through an open, human driven workflow. 

  • Virtual Support for people with learning disabilities

AutonoMe provides educational technology with one to one support to improve outcomes for vulnerable people in social care settings. 

The SCDIA achieved not only the core aims of delivering the solutions, but has started to change the way local authorities think about innovation, funding and collaboration. Being part of digital projects without needing IT resources and with a very light touch approach, means that councils can engage with the programme without putting any internal service delivery of  transformation programmes off course. 

Developing digital approaches to ASC challenges needs significant investment, coordination and programme management. Alone, no council can afford to develop digital solutions to these priority challenges as budgets and resources just don’t not allow it. By coming together and co-funding the solutions, the councils were able to be part of real innovation, led by technical experts and supported by business partners who managed the legal, business case, sustainability and commercial work that was required to embed and scale resulting solutions more widely. 

The 16 public sector bodies involved in the SCDIA 2020/21 each benefit from being part of the vanguard to help co-design, fund and steer the solution to get it off the ground, and by working with a range of partners we are able to collect a wide set of requirements and challenges (including back-end systems, internal processes, reporting requirements and more) to ensure the solution can address them all and as such be relevant to the widest possible number of councils. 

Over 150 local councils – with their health and care partners – have engaged with the SCDIA more widely, keeping track of the solutions as they were built and now considering the business case for deploying them locally now that they are available. All too often public sector funding streams see money go to one organisation for the development of a particular technology or approach. Often the project is unable – for a variety of legitimate reasons – to share the resulting work and as such the funding benefits one area or set of people, here the SCDIA allowed the funding to benefit the many, with more to come.