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Guest Column: Kate Terroni talks innovation and technology in care

kate Terroni II

Kate Terroni, the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, discusses how technology and innovation can enhance the quality of care.

Welcome to my second column for Home Care Insight. In my first column I wrote about my three priorities, one of which is about enabling and encouraging innovation within the care sector and supporting the impact that emerging technologies can have on enhancing the quality of people’s care.

With the publication of our ‘Driving Improvement through Technology’ resource; and the news that the NHS will soon be teaming up with Amazon to allow people to access health information through an AI-powered voice assistant (Alexa) – now seems like the perfect time to discuss the role that innovation and technology can, and indeed will, play in improving care and providing real solutions to the issues facing the whole of the adult social care sector.

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The Driving Improvement resource contains some excellent examples of where technology is enhancing people’s lives. Amongst the examples given is a residential home that is using a secure web-based tool, accessed via a tablet, which contains information about the people receiving care and provides ‘interaction triggers’, such as personal photos, music, videos and stories, all about that person’s life.

This gives care staff meaningful prompts to engage with the person, increases mental stimulation and has supported the development of relationships between people who receive services and their staff. I’m very keen that we at the CQC, along with providers and commissioners of care, look at these examples of innovative working to understand the effectiveness of new practices, and how they can be shared more widely for the benefit of more people.

Of course, innovating in social care is different to innovating in other sectors, as everything that we do impacts on the quality of people’s care and, therefore, innovation must always be mindful of people’s safety, dignity and privacy.

I am very clear that we must embrace new and innovative practice. We cannot stand in the way of digital and technological development; regulation must keep pace with new advancements and constantly encourage progression – always keeping in mind how different and inventive ways of doing things can ultimately lead to better, high-quality, person-centred care.

I am also very clear that in exploring such technology and innovation we are in no way seeking to substitute the role of our care and support workforce. In fact, I strongly believe that technology can greatly improve the experience for staff as well as people receiving services, allowing them to spend less time on paperwork and; instead enabling them to focus more of their time on doing what they do best – delivering compassionate and person-centred care.

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