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Social care programme

The social care programme focuses on improving digital maturity in the adult social care provider sector (such as domiciliary care and care homes) and helping adult social care to join up its IT systems with the health sector.

Latest news

NHS Digital article
9 June 2020
Councils can now apply to co-fund and co-develop three Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator (SCDIA) projects in 2020/21.

We support the health and care sectors to share information securely between different systems and to simplify and standardise the information they collect and use.

There are many links between the health and care system, such as when someone is discharged from hospital into social care, but it's often difficult for health and care professionals to share information about patients and people accessing services. Access to the right information at the right time is essential to transfer people smoothly between care settings and to ensure continuity of care.


  • information that needs to be shared may not be standardised
  • health and social care IT systems may not link up, meaning that information has to be sent by fax or post
  • there are differing levels of digital maturity across the health and care system

We work with care professionals, commissioners, system leaders, IT suppliers and bodies that represent the care sector to identify, explore and develop digital solutions to address these problems. 

Benefits of the Social Care Programme

Our solutions are co-produced with the social care sector to make sure we prioritise the right issues. They are designed to work on a national level whilst allowing for local flexibility.

The work of the social care programme supports better understanding and use of digital technology across the social care sector. Our projects are helping to make transfers of care smoother and safer, improving people’s experience of care, supporting better care decisions and saving care professionals’ time.

Our funding

See where we provide funding for social care projects across England by using our interactive map. This map is currently being updated to reflect new funding to the sector in 2019 via the:

  • Social Care Digital Innovation Programme 2019-21 (12 projects funded for a discovery phase and 6 of these projects subsequently funded to implement their solutions)
  • Social Care Digital Pathfinders 2019-21 (26 projects funded for a development phase and 16 of these projects subsequently funded to scale up implementation)

Our services

Digital Social Care

Digital Social Care is a sector led project aimed at changing how care providers understand the benefits of digital maturity and engage with technology.

We have compiled sector-led guidance for data security and cyber security, specifically tailored to be accessible for care providers. This guidance is intended to be used by care providers in completing the Data security and protection toolkit. Completion of the Data Security and Protection Toolkit enables access to NHSmail, a national health and care email system enabling secure information sharing.

Information standard to support assessment discharge and withdrawal notices between hospitals and adult social care

The assessment, discharge and withdrawal notices between hospitals and social services information standard is designed to increase efficiency of the acute to social care discharge process. It helps to standardise data being sent from a hospital to a local authority's adult social care department when a safe discharge requires a social care assessment.

Assessment discharge withdrawal

This project provides funding for local authorities to digitise statutory elements of the discharge process between health and social care, to improve efficiency and reduce delays in transfers of care. They are doing this using existing NHS Digital infrastructure and the published information standard to support assessment discharge and withdrawal notices. This project aims to have the digital discharge service live in 21 local authorities by March 2021.

Social Care Digital Innovation Programme

Run by NHS Digital in partnership with the Local Government Association, the Social Care Digital Innovation Programme provides funding for local authorities to support innovative uses of digital technology in the design and delivery of adult social care.

Digital Social Care Demonstrator Programme 2018-19

In 2018 funding was awarded to a number of local authorities to develop digital projects that support social care. The Demonstrator projects ended in March 2019 and aimed to help increase the uptake and use of crucial health information in social care settings. It promoted the value of integrated care approaches and sharing best practice to enable further rollout across the sector.

The successful local authorities, and their social care providers and healthcare partners, were funded to transfer health information into adult social care or vice versa using existing or new digital products and services. This aim was to improve care and support for social care users through better information sharing. This money also funded work on the use of predictive analytics to predict or prevent long-term social care need.

Predictive analytics is a form of advanced analytics that uses both new and historical data to forecast activity, behavior and trends. It involves applying statistical analysis techniques, analytical queries and automated machine learning algorithms to data sets to create predictive models on the likelihood of a particular event happening in the future.

Find out more about the Digital Social Care Demonstrator Programme.

Digital Social Care Pathfinders Programme 2019-21

The Pathfinder opportunity is aimed at local authorities responsible for providing social care and not-for-profit care providers, such as care homes and domiciliary care

Funding is being provided to areas who have already piloted digital solutions successfully in small local areas. The aim is to implement them on a larger scale and to produce a range of products that will support wider sector adoption at a reasonable cost.

These national products vary according to the issue being addressed. However common themes are:

  • professional and technical information standards
  • machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and methods to replicate predictive analytics
  • arrangements with suppliers to work in an open manner and commit to consistent pricing for wider adoption

Twenty-six organisations were funded originally to undertake a development phase and in November 2019, 16 of these organisations are receiving further funding to proceed to implementation, which is now well under way and due to complete by March 2021.

Find out more about the Digital Social Care Pathfinders Programme 2019-21

Suppliers and care professionals

If your care organisation is interested in standardising information and developing digital ways of sharing that information between organisations, contact to find out more about our programmes of work and how to get involved. 

Further information

  1. internal

    Digital Social Care Demonstrator Programme 2018-19

    In 2018 NHS Digital awarded a share of £1.4m to a number of local authorities to develop digital projects that support social care. These case studies show how the successful local authorities made information sharing between health and care fast, secure and accurate, and made the journey between care settings as smooth as possible for users.

Last edited: 12 June 2020 1:11 pm