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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.

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.

Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator (SCDIA)

The Local Government Association and NHS Digital are supporting 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 commenced in July and councils are co-funding and co-developing 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)

Find out more about the projects.

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. 

Related news

NHS Digital article
21 August 2020
There's a vital need for digital medicines support to improve the health and wellbeing of people cared for in their own homes. A publication of the specification marks the culmination of a Social Care Digital Innovation Programme Accelerator match-funded by NHS Digital and managed by the Local Government Association.
NHS Digital article
18 August 2020
A new project, launched today by the National Care Forum with funding from NHS Digital’s Digital Pathfinders Programme, will help care providers to understand the benefits of technology, how to build a business case for investment, and how to successfully introduce, use and evaluate technology.
NHS Digital article
14 July 2020
The LGA in collaboration with NHS Digital is grant funding digital innovation in social care. Twelve councils were selected for the third wave of funding, with six progressing to implementation. 
NHS Digital article
14 July 2020
The Social Care Programme is currently supporting 16 Pathfinder projects which include organisations across England who commission or deliver adult social care services to deliver innovative uses of technology and information sharing to achieve better outcomes. 
NHS Digital article
11 February 2020
Sixteen organisations that provide and commission adult social care services are to receive a share of £4.5m to enable them to roll out their local digital projects on a wider scale.
NHS Digital article
1 April 2019
Organisations that provide and commission adult social care services are invited to bid for a share of £4.8m to enable them to roll out their local digital projects on a wider scale.

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: 21 August 2020 2:44 pm