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Social Care Programme

The Social Care Programme ran from 2016 to 2021 and has made a significant contribution to improving digital maturity in the adult social care provider sector (such as domiciliary care and care homes) and has helped the adult social care to join up its IT systems with the health sector.

The programme supported the health and care sectors to develop ways of sharing information securely between different systems to simplify and standardise the information collected and used. 

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 worked 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. 

The programme ran from April 2016 to March 2021 and funded over 100 projects with a total investment of £22.8 million. The funded projects predicted a lifetime benefit of £103.2 million on completion.

The Local Government Association (LGA) and NHS Digital commissioned RSM UK Consulting LLP (RSM), IMPOWER, and the Institute of Public Care (IPC) at Oxford Brookes University to conduct an evaluation of the Social Care Programme. This overarching evaluation report reviews what the programme has delivered against its original targets, as well as highlighting at a programme level key successes and challenges, and the lessons learned.

Benefits of the Social Care Programme

Our solutions have been 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

The programme funded over 100 projects. Overall, the programme received a total investment of £22.8 million and the funded projects predicted a lifetime benefit of £127 million on completion. See the locations supported by using our interactive map

Social Care Digital Innovation Programme 2019-21

12 projects were funded for a discovery phase and 6 of these projects were subsequently funded to implement their solutions.

Social Care Digital Pathfinders 2019-21

26 projects were funded for the development phase and 16 of these projects were provided funding to scale up implementation.

Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator (SDCIA)

These projects were launched from 2019 and provided over £500,000 to encourage co-funding and collaboration between councils on new digital projects of common interest to them and the wider adult social care sector.

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.

Digital Social Care Pathfinders Programme 2019-21

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

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

These national products varied according to the issue being addressed. However common themes included:

  • 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 received further funding to implement by March 2021.

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

Social Care Digital Innovation Programme

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

Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator (SCDIA)

The Local Government Association and NHS Digital supported digital innovation to help local government and their care partners deliver health and social care services.

In 2019-20, the Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator programme sought partner councils to help co-fund and co-develop a collaborative digital solution to the following areas across social care with programme partner CC2i:

  • A people and partnership-centred approach to the new Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) legislation
  • Multi-agency domiciliary care medicine support

Building on the success of SCDIA 2019-20, the SCDIA 2020-21 programme began in July and councils are co-funded and co-developed 3 digital projects focused on:

  • discharge to assess (Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Birmingham City Council, Herefordshire County Council, North Lincolnshire Council, Sutton London Borough Council)
  • virtual support for vulnerable people (Barking and Dagenham London Borough Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, Haringey London Borough Council, Telford & Wrekin Council, West Sussex County Council)
  • multi-agency safeguarding (a partnership between Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and key agencies including fire, health and police)

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 provided 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 were doing this using existing NHS Digital infrastructure and the published information standard to support assessment discharge and withdrawal notices. However, wider adoption of this solution was disrupted due to COVID-19, and furthermore the change in legislation during the pandemic and the NHS mandate to implement Discharge to Assess removed the requirement to send Assessment and Discharge notifications. This obviously had a significant impact on uptake by other local authorities.

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. The 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, behaviour 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.

Contact us

Although the programme is completed, if your care organisation is interested in standardising information and developing digital ways of sharing that information between organisations, you can still contact [email protected] to find out more about our programmes of work and how to get involved. 

Further information

Last edited: 12 October 2022 1:19 pm