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Going digital doesn’t have to be daunting

by Kirsty Kirsty

Michelle Corrigan, Programme Director, Better Security, Better Care shares how to support staff in developing their digital and data skills and knowledge.

We all live and work in an increasingly digital world. Care staff are no exception. From accessing records and sharing information with colleagues, to checking staff rosters and keeping in touch with family carers – it’s increasingly happening through digital technology. There are real benefits in terms of speed and accuracy, but there are also risks and new skills to be developed.

As there is no single course to fit everyone’s needs it can be difficult for care managers and staff to know where to start with technology.

That’s why the NHS Transformation Directorate’s Digitising Social Care Programme commissioned Skills for Care to develop the Digital Skills Framework, which is hosted on Digital Social Care.

The draft edition, published in April 2022, provides a structure for learning and development in digital skills. And it is accompanied by a list of potential courses.

The framework covers seven key themes for effective digital working.

  1. Using digital technology in a person-centred way

Digital technology can help people working in social care to provide person-centred care. This can involve helping people to choose technology that works for them, access their personal information online and stay connected to people that are important to them. Care workers therefore need to understand what is available, how to access those systems, and ideally how to use them.

  • Technical skills for using digital technology

Staff need to know how to use devices such as smartphones and tablets, connect to the internet and solve basic IT problems, such as software updates. They also need to know where they can go for support. Managers should ensure they understand which technologies can benefit their service and how to introduce them effectively.

  • Communicating through technology

Having the ability to communicate through video-calls and email, work together safely and respectfully online, and support people using digital communication aids are important skills for working in social care.

  • Being safe and secure online

Staff need to have the skills and knowledge to handle sensitive information safely and understand the legal requirements around data protection and cyber security.

The most comprehensive way to check and improve data and cyber security arrangements is to complete the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT). Providers can also access free support from the Better Security, Better Care programme, including a managers’ discussion guide on data protection and a basic awareness assessment tool for frontline staff.

  • Ethical use of data and digital technology

People’s best interests must be at the heart of decisions to use digital tools. Managers and staff need to consider how and which data is collected and stored to protect people’s privacy and dignity.

  • Using and managing data to deliver care

Being able to share and learn from people’s care and health data can improve the quality and safety of care. Staff need to be supported to handle, share and act upon data appropriately.  This includes having the skills and confidence to upload and access information on online systems.  The DSPT also enables care providers to check their data sharing arrangements.

  • Digital learning, self-development and wellbeing

Digital technology can help staff to access e-learning, training videos and online networks. Technology can also help people to manage their personal health and wellbeing. It is important staff know how to maximise these benefits while reducing any negative impacts from using technology and social media.

The need for digital skills is not going away. All care services are encouraged to take advantage of the freely available resources to help them on their digital journey.

For further information visit https://www.digitalsocialcare.co.uk/digital-skills-and-training/

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