Amid ongoing concerns about the impact of austerity on critical services like adults’ and children’s social care and in the face of demographic pressures relating to an ageing population, optimism does not always abound in discussions about these services. However, despite, and often in direct response to some of these issues, an increasing number of local authorities are beginning to rewrite the future of these critical services. As Nicky Parker, Director of Business Change and Transformation at Manchester City Council points out, it’s not about just ‘doing things differently, we must do different things instead – because we have already done things differently’.

This blog is the first in a series where we will shine a light on some of these ‘different things’. We’ll take a virtual tour up and down the UK to explore stories of new ways of working, partnerships and of course the role which data, AI and digital are playing in this field. Change is happening, not only in service transformation, (because you’d be right to expect that) but also in how digital is paving the way for consumers of care to make our own choices about the sort of care which really matters to us – after all, this will be all of us one day. So where will we be stopping off?

With many services currently experiencing more ‘front doors’ than citizens can cope with, there are some substantial changes in the way which organisations are thinking about how services of the future will be accessed by those seeking help. An increasing number of authorities are looking to AI-driven virtual assistant services (aka bots) to support people in helping themselves by, for example, using this technology to suggest appropriate assistive technology which can help people in the home. Newcastle City Council’s Adult Social Care Equipment bot is one of the first of its kind, with similar technology popping up elsewhere in the country.

Others are bringing the power of AI and blockchain to help people source the care they want close to their own homes, and in doing so are beginning to address the issue of care ‘blackspots’ which leave many people without any care at all. Using the Tribe Project’s platform, individuals in pilot sites in Dorset Council and Shropshire Council can choose how to spend their care budget on support delivered from carers in their local area, people they trust to support them at the time and in the way they most need help.

North of the border in Dumfries and Galloway, exploring and deepening partnerships between the sector, the IT industry and academia have given rise to a new breed of assistive technology which goes beyond detecting falls to actually predicting the likelihood of them happening – Loreburn Housing, supported by ARMED technology managed to eradicate falls during tests. This is a genuine step forward in using technology to enable early intervention in order to prevent (or delay) the otherwise seemingly inevitable journey into increasingly costly care pathways.

A little further south,  Manchester City Council, together with health partners forming the Manchester Care Organisation are looking to evolve their integrated health and care approach through a data platform to manage and respond to real time needs from people whilst they are still in the community. Putting a focus on supporting people wherever possible to stay in their homes supported by family and friends, the integrated team is looking to make its combined data work for the benefit of the whole system and for the people of Manchester delivering a person centred, data driven ‘whole system’ approach. This is a truly different way of delivering health and care and should be of interest to Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Integrated Care Systems up and down the country.

We hope that you will find this series of blogs useful and that you will enjoy reading this UKAuthority whitepaper which showcases some other examples of innovation in health and care.

If you would like more information, please comment below to get in touch or reach out to your Microsoft Account Manager.

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About the author

Helena Zaum headshot

Helena is Microsoft UK’s Local and Regional Government Industry Lead. She is passionate about the positive impact which technology, sensitively applied, can have on communities and cities of the future. Technology embedded in the fabric and infrastructure of our lives should help improve our day to day experiences, but it must do so in a way which helps us build a strong sense of community with those around us, encouraging a shared sense of ownership about our immediate environment, and on those further afield. Helena’s remit at Microsoft involves looking at how technology can help transform public services, particularly integrated health and social care, and leading on Microsoft’s smart cities programme in the UK. During her ten years at Microsoft, Helena has worked in various public sector focused roles, working with a mixture of start ups and major commercial organisations serving the public sector and with local government customers in the UK on their digital transformation activities. Prior to Microsoft, Helena managed a number of large change programmes and is well versed in the importance of the people side of change and transformation.