The Health Foundation is getting ready to launch a new funding programme which will explore the potential for using technology to enable care at home and in the community. Opening for applications in May 2023, the programme will support up to six teams to develop, test and pilot care that focuses on the caring and enabling relationships needed between those who deliver and those who receive care, and that is proactive in supporting people to live a better and more independent life where possible.
We speak to programme manager Jenna Collins about the opportunities and challenges for tech-enabled care, and the long-term ambitions for the programme.
Why is the Health Foundation focusing on tech-enabled care in this new funding programme?
We’ve done a lot of work around the use of technology in health care settings over the past few years and we know that when used well, it can be a great enabler of change and improvement. With the care system under enormous pressure, we need to find new ways to deliver a better experience for people who receive care and those who provide it. Technology isn’t a silver bullet that will magically fix the care system, but it does have huge untapped potential to make a difference and help deliver the kind of care that focuses on relationships and is proactive, rather than care that is transactional and reactive.
A big focus of the Foundation's new strategy is supporting radical innovation and improvement, not just in health services but in social care too. It’s exciting to launch the first programme to start bringing that ambition to life.
What are the opportunities for using technology in care at home and in the community? What are the challenges?
The benefits for staff range from transforming administrative and back office functions, such as enabling more efficient appointment scheduling or staff rostering, to supporting staff and carers to deliver more timely, coordinated care. But the main opportunity is to improve the relationships that support care. Technology can also be put into the hands of individuals who receive care, to help them communicate or to live in their own homes for longer.
One of the biggest challenges is that teams working in health and social care rarely have the time that’s needed to explore and implement new ways of delivering care. We need to build our understanding of the opportunities for tech-enabled care, by bringing together teams from local health and social care systems, along with people who receive care, to do this thinking. It’s essential to have the right voices in the room and to take a joined-up approach to thinking about what excellent care should look and feel like.
What’s different about the design of this innovation programme?
The application process for funding programmes generally starts with a call for project proposals, where teams put forward details of the kind of project they want to deliver. But when we were starting to think about the design of this programme, we were very conscious of the day-to-day pressures facing teams who work in the care system. Knowing that they don’t necessarily have the time and space needed to think about opportunities for tech-enabled care and put together a project proposal, we’re going to give care providers (organisations delivering care at home, in residential settings, or in the community) the funding and support they need to do this thinking as part of the programme.
When we launch the programme next month we'll ask teams in their application form to tell us about the opportunities for new, tech-enabled approaches in their local care systems (even if they don't quite know what that might look like), and the strong local partnerships that can help make it happen.
The first stage of the programme will see teams working with their local communities to find opportunities for improving the delivery and experience of care at home and in the community, and exploring the role that technology could play in this. There’ll be a strong emphasis on co-design and making sure that ideas are shaped by the experiences of people receiving and delivering care. This collaborative approach will continue during later stages of the programme, when teams move on to testing and prototyping ideas, and then implementing pilot projects.
What do you hope will be the long-term impact of this programme?
We’re hoping that the programme will lead to some promising ideas and learning about how technology can benefit the lives of people who receive and deliver care, with practical insights into how these ideas can be spread and scaled within the care system.
But we know that innovation doesn’t always go smoothly – and if the testing and piloting phases show that particular ideas and approaches don’t work in practice, that’s also ok. We can learn from failure as well as from success. Learning about what doesn’t work will be valuable in helping others avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Find out more
- The new programme will be opening for applications in May 2023 and further information on how to apply will be available on our current opportunities page
- We are also looking for a provider to undertake an evaluation for this new programme. You can find out more about this opportunity in our invitation to tender
This content originally featured in our email newsletter, which explores perspectives and expert opinion on a different health or health care topic each month.