Posted: 20 October 2021
Digital processes are becoming an everyday part of many social care roles and keeping your team’s digital skills up-to-date can help you all to stay on top of best practice and new innovations.
But in the fast-paced and challenging world of social care it’s not always easy to introduce new technology skills to staff.
Skills for Care’s Digital Programme Head Diane Buddery shares advice for social care employers on how they can embed digital skills within their team, in a way that works for everyone.
Working with technology is becoming an everyday part of the job for the vast majority of our sector. Whether it’s booking leave online, adding notes via a digital care management system, or working with a monitoring system, the confidence and competence to be able to integrate technology into care to ensure better outcomes is key for all our workforce.
‘Digital skills’ are the particular abilities in the use of technology to support the safe and effective delivery of care services and/or to enable a member of the social care workforce to fulfil other aspects of their role. This could include video calls, using social media, handling electronic information, or using software applications.
For some, this presents an image of social care that they hadn’t considered. Those who believed that a career in social care wouldn’t involve technology may be surprised to hear about roles such as ‘technology enabled care advisors’, or to see how technology is assisting people that deliver care and support to do their jobs with greater effectiveness and efficiency.
Benefits of digital
Promoting the use of technology within your service could entice a whole new group of people to become interested in the sector. In fact, using technology to reach new people during the recruitment process can also demonstrate that you’re open to using and embedding different skills and types of people into your organisation (TikTok recruitment videos anyone?!).
Developing staff to utilise technology, to see its benefits and to be encouraged to seek out more opportunities, can also help to retain staff.
One registered manager, Martyn Davies of Urmston Manor spoke to TEC Services Association (TSA) about how introducing digital has benefited his organisation, supporting his team and improving the care and support which they provide.
Martyn says he values the role which more digital processes has played in allowing him to spend less time doing paperwork and more time with the people he supports.
A digital challenge
For some though, learning new skills around technology is challenging.
Organisations have told us there are members of their teams who either avoid technology or find using it very stressful.
It’s important to remember that during the pandemic, staff were learning to use technology at breakneck speed as a matter of urgency. This has left many feeling stressed with recent bad experiences of learning in this area.
So, care must be taken to protect the wellbeing of new or existing staff when introducing technology or upskilling people, to avoid disengagement among your team or a team member choosing to leave their role.
Many employers talk about the positive benefits of having a digital champion; a member of the team who is confident with technology (not an expert) and can support others around them to learn and gain confidence.
In London, Skills for Care are working with several London Boroughs to develop a digital champion role using the Kickstart programme, but this can also be a part of someone’s existing role.
It’s also key to build up confidence through reassurance and by usability being embedded into the learning. How useable is the system you’re trying to get the person to learn? Is it the system or the learner that is the block?
Find out more about the use of technology in care with our digital information and resources.
For more information on retaining staff have a look at our #RetainToGain spotlight.