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New Working Paper: Technology in social care: spotlight on the English policy landscape, 2019-2022

Young person with cerebral palsy using a computer

Technology in social care: spotlight on the English policy landscape, 2019-2022

Dr Grace Whitfield and Dr Kate Hamblin

Aims of the paper

  1. To provide insight into the recent policy context related to the development and implementation of technologies in care arrangements in England (2019-2022);
  2. To examine the factors influencing the development and implementation of technologies in care arrangements in England;
  3. To update a working paper from the Sustainable Care Programme (Wright, 2020) which explored the use of digital technologies in the UK adult social care sector, 2000-19.

Structure and approach

The paper explores policy developments relevant to care and technologies between 2019 and 2022, analysing recent changes to funding structures, strategic priorities and government organisations. We adopt an approach similar to Wright (in his 2020 paper) in: how we categorise technologies used in care; in adopting a thematic approach; and in focusing on actions by national/local policy and practice and trade and industry organisations. Our paper is timely and covers years characterised by ongoing debate, policy change and new implementation of technologies in care. Unlike Wright, we concentrate on developments in England in this paper (and do not examine changes in other UK nations), in line with our plans for new fieldwork in the Centre for Care’s ‘Digital Care’ theme.

Key findings

Wright’s conclusions (2020) emphasised the ‘fragmented’ and ‘broken’ nature of the social care sector and highlighted a lack of national leadership or direction. Our paper explores this in more depth, highlighting the processes, context and factors (Hamblin et al, 2017) that affect the development and implementation of care technologies, and identifying three main issues:

  1. Localisation of technology implementation
  2. Shifts in policy focus among governmental bodies
  3. Increased financialisation among care and technology providers

About the authors

In her role at the Centre for Care, Grace will be working with Dr Kate Hamblin to examine the effects of technology changes on paid and unpaid care provision. The research will consider whether, and in what circumstances, digitalisation has positive or negative consequences for stakeholders. It will focus on inequalities of technology implementation, the impact of fragmentation and financialisation, and the nature of the labour process.

Kate is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for International Research on Care, Labour and Equalities, University of Sheffield. She joined the University of Sheffield in 2018 to work on the Sustainable Care programme. She currently leads the Centre for Care’s Digital Care research theme and is the UK Networks lead for the IMPACT Centre. 

Book chapters


Men working in the adult social care sector in England: a narrative study.

Ella Monkcom August 2023, Dissertation, MA in Social Research

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Journal Articles

Scholarly articles by the Centre for Care team.

Responses to calls for evidence

The Centre for Care team regularly submit evidence to a number of wide-ranging government inquiries.

Submission to the House of Lords Communications and Digital Select Committee inquiry, ‘Digital exclusion and the cost of living’

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Submission to the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee inquiry on Family Migration

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Submission to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee inquiry into ‘Post-pandemic economic growth: UK labour markets’

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Submission to Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) inquiry into ‘Connected tech: smart or sinister?’

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