Technology businesses will be invited to develop solutions that could transform adult social care services in Torfaen, South Wales, and potentially world-wide, after the council secured £1.25 million from a UK Government digital innovation fund.
The money comes from a £20 million pot announced by the government in November 2017 as part of its GovTech Catalyst competition, which was launched to incentivise Britain’s tech firms to come up with smart solutions to fix public sector problems.
Five companies could now be awarded up to £50,000 by Torfaen County Borough Council to develop their ideas, focusing on how data and technology can create a dynamic and responsive adult social care service.
Should a successful solution be developed, it could be viable for all adult social care across Wales, the UK and potentially world-wide.
Councillor Richard Clark, executive member for health, adult services and wellbeing, said: “We are delighted with our successful entry to the GovTech Catalyst Fund competition. The challenge we have set is a complex one but the benefits could be truly transformative in a sector where demand for services is rapidly increasing.
“We look forward to working with some of the most cutting edge technology and innovation firms to deliver a solution that could have a huge impact on how social care services are delivered in the not too distant future.”
Last year Torfaen spent more than £29 million on adult social care services. Population projections show that the number of people aged over 85 in Torfaen will have more than doubled from 2,541 to 5,594 in the next 20 years and many of these people, particularly women, will be living alone.
The issue is one facing all councils across the UK with the rising demand for adult social care services adding to the pressures on the health service where people who cannot get the support they need in the community, often ending up in hospital and subsequently unable to be discharged.
Councillor Anthony Hunt, leader of Torfaen Council, said: “The GovTech Catalyst gives us the opportunity to bring together some of the brightest and innovative minds from the tech industry with the passion, knowledge and expertise of our social care workers.
“The growing need for adult social care services means we have to find new ways of managing and reducing demand, increasing efficiency while providing quality services for our residents. If data and digital technology can be used to improve care and health outcomes for our residents, then the benefits for everyone will be significant.”