Technology in social care: spotlight on the English policy landscape, 2019-2022
Dr Grace Whitfield and Dr Kate Hamblin
Aims of the paper
- To provide insight into the recent policy context related to the development and implementation of technologies in care arrangements in England (2019-2022);
- To examine the factors influencing the development and implementation of technologies in care arrangements in England;
- 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.
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:
- Localisation of technology implementation
- Shifts in policy focus among governmental bodies
- 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.
Scholarly articles by the Centre for Care team.
Technology and homecare in the UK: Policy, storylines and practice
The Global Demand for Migrant Care Workers: Drivers and Implications on Migrants’ Wellbeing
Dealing with drift: Comparing social care reform in the four nations of the UK
How do you shape a market? Explaining local state practices in adult social care
Needham, C, Allen, K, Burn, E, Hall, K, Mangan, C, Al-Janabi, H, Tahir, W, Carr, S, Glasby, J, Henwood, M & McKay, S (2022), ‘How do you shape a market? Explaining local state practices in adult social care‘, Journal of Social Policy.
Sustainable Social Care: The Potential of Mainstream “Smart” Technologies
Digital exclusion and unpaid carers in South Yorkshire
Valuing Carers 2021: England and Wales
This research research, undertaken by Centre for Care colleagues Maria Petrillo and Matt Bennett, finds that the value of unpaid care in England and Wales is now estimated to be £162 billion, exceeding that of the entire NHS budget in England for health service spending.
Cycles of caring: transitions in and out of unpaid care
Our new research, undertaken by Centre for Care colleagues, Maria Petrillo, Matt Bennett and Gwilym Pryce, is released for Carers Rights Day (24th November 2022) and shows the astonishing numbers of people in the UK starting or ending an unpaid caring role each year.
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’
Submission to the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee inquiry on Family MigrationView Publication
Submission to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee into UK Labour Supply
This response draws on our recent work in the Sustainable Care programme. In preparing it we drew on previous focus groups with care workers and managers about their experiences of the social care sector. We would like to acknowledge and thank them for their time and insights.
Submission to the House of Lords Adult Social Care Committee inquiry into ‘Lifting the veil: removing the invisibility of adult social care’
We submitted written evidence from our research as well as the lived expertise of our non-academic partners including Sheffield Carers Centre, Sheffield Young Carers, SADACCA (Sheffield And District African Caribbean Community Association), SACMHA Health & Social Care, and Sheffield Voices.
Submission to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee inquiry into ‘Post-pandemic economic growth: UK labour markets’View Publication
Submission to Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) inquiry into ‘Connected tech: smart or sinister?’View Publication
Expert Panel: Evaluation of Government’s commitments in the area of the health and social care workforce in England
Professor Shereen Hussein was one of the workforce specialists who contributed to a separate special report, ‘Expert Panel: Evaluation of Government’s commitments in the area of the health and social care workforce in England’, published in July 2022.
House of Commons Health & Social Care Committee inquiry into ‘Workforce: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care’
Published in July 2022. This report includes evidence submitted by Tom Hunt on behalf of the Centre, drawing on lessons that can be learned from the introduction of mandatory vaccination for care home workers.
Working Paper 3: Technology and social care: key areas of policy focus in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, 2019-2022
This paper is a companion piece to Centre for Care Working Paper 1 ‘Technology in social care: spotlight on the English policy landscape, 2019-2022’ (Whitfield and Hamblin, 2022). As with that publication, we update a working paper from the Sustainable Care Programme [SCP] (Wright, 2020) which explored UK adult social care sector policy and practice related to the use of digital technologies in the period from 2000 to 2019.
Working Paper 2: What does the concept of an ecosystem offer to social care? A narrative review of the ecosystem literature
This paper provides a narrative literature review of the concept of ecosystem. It considers how the concept has been applied to public services and the contribution this conceptual framework could make to our understanding of social care.
Working Paper 1: Technology in social care: spotlight on the English policy landscape, 2019-2022