Digital working, learning and information sharing

Person writing on a desk in front of a keyboardge Here The social care workforce can use technology to support people to live independently and have meaningful lives.

When we talk about digital working we mean working with computer systems, tablets, phones etc.

There are many benefits of working digitally, for example, staff can gain quicker access to information and find new and engaging ways to stay in touch with those who need care and support. 

Digital working also refers to the safe storage, collection and sharing of confidential Information.  This is the responsibility of everyone who works in social care. It’s a vital component of how we ensure the dignity and privacy of the people we support and a requirement of law.

About the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR will affect all social care organisations and come into force in May 2018.  We've published a series of documents and guides to help you comply.

Start with Why information collection, sharing and storage is important to get the basics about how the law is changing and why those who work in adult social care have a duty to uphold data principles.

Further guides, advice and support can be found in the following sections: 

This leaflet has been written by a solicitor to help set out how you can comply with the new GDPR regulations which come into force on 25 May 2018.

Social care organisations should now be in the process of considering the potential impact of GDPR on their policies, procedures and systems as budget and resources may need to be allocated.

Compliance with GDPR can seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s possible to break down GDPR compliance into bite size chunks on a risk analysis basis. 

Information Commissioners Office (ICO) Helpline

The ICO has launched a new helpline aimed at SMEs and charities to advise you how to be GDPR compliant by 25 May 2018. The service includes an additional, personal support feature for those that have specific questions.  

Call 0303 123 1113 and select option 4. 

The Information Commissioner has written a myth-busting blog about GDPR compliance being an ongoing journey, and one where the ICO will be a ‘fair and proportionate’ regulator. 

Cyber security is the name for the safeguards taken to avoid or reduce any disruption from an attack on data, computers or mobile devices. It covers  safeguarding confidentiality and privacy and the availability and integrity of data, both of which are vital for the quality and safety of care.

  • Security breaches can occur when we use paper records, send information using fax machines and even verbally. However, the consequences of security breaches with digital information are potentially far more severe, as information can be distributed more easily and to afar wider audience.
  • Cyber-breaches are costly – in terms of expense, recovery time and through damage to reputation. All staff must be aware of how to implement protective measures. 

Read more about it and how to improve it here

Free online training module for social care providers

e-Learning for Healthcare are offering an online training module for social care providers.  If you'd like to access this, please download and follow these instructions.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will now be considering data security as part of the well-led element of their inspections.  Care providers will need to provide assurance that theyare taking their data obligations seriously.  

To help, NHS Digital have designed a Data Protection and Security Toolkit which is based on ten Government agreed, data security standards for health and social care.  

The toolkit will help you demonstrate your compliance with the standards in the CQC KLOEs and also help achieve compliance with new data protection legislation (the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The Care Providers Alliance has produced guidance and free templates to support completion of the Toolkit. 

  •  It is recommended that social care providers start to comply with the DSP Toolkit from April 2018 regardless of their contract status.
  • The Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSP Toolkit) replaced the Information Governance (IG) Toolkit in April 2018.
  • The Department of Health and Social Care has provided guidance on information governance requirements for care providers which can be summarised as:
    • Social care providers who operate through the NHS Standard Contract will need to comply with the DSP Toolkit from April 2018 and complete by 31st March 2019.
    • For those who do not operate under a NHS Standard Contract, there is no mandatory action to take in 2018.

Technology is powerful. It can help relatives and family feel more involved and in control; give care workers more time to spend with residents; provide safer care and help your care business become more transparent. 

Three different care businesses have all embarked on a journey to invest in technology – in very different ways – and we want to share these journeys with you. 

Visit our digital leadership page to hear their stories in a series of videos. 

Everyone working in social care and health should see the use and safe sharing of information as part of their responsibility. This is why we produced an information sharing for social care employers guide to help social care employers consider these issues and begin to skill their staff to meet these new challenges.


Three short films have been produced to show how employers have started to meet some of the challenges of information sharing

  1. Lessons in integrated working - the Living well project, Cornwall
  2. New systems for information sharing -  the heathland project, Cumbria
  3. Advice from data sharing experts The Centre for Excellence for Information Sharing and the Information Governance Alliance explain how they can support employers in this area.

Core digital skills are the skills and knowledge needed to undertake every day digital activities relevant to your job role. We have put together a guide to help you understand why people in social care need core digital skills and to identify what they are. Download our guide to core digital skills in social care.

In 2014 we asked the adult social care workforce how they used technology and how confident they were with it. An infographic shows the results of this work in an easy to read format and a short bulletin shares more detail.  

To find out more about the other core skills in social care visit our core skills page.

This strategy sets out how we can all implement digital working, learning and information sharing. The most important aspect is that digital technologies are used in the best interests of people needing care and support and at all times to support their choice and independence. The strategy ensures:

  • Everyone involved in delivering care and support has the confidence andcompetence to work digitally, and the opportunity to develop their digital skills.
  • Digital learning is recognised as a crucial part of workforce development, and partof a blended approach to learning and development including the achievement of standards and qualifications.
  • The potential of digital technology to enhance the lives of people with care andsupport needs, and that some people need help to engage with the digital technology is understood.
  • Digital technologies are used in the best interests of people needing care and support and at all times to support theirchoice and independence.
  • Digital information is shared appropriately, securely and transparently and workers, people with care and support needs and carers have confidence in the systems used to store information electronically.

Three years on - Our three years on document takes a look at what work we have undertaken since the strategy was first launched three years ago, as well as dialogue and feedback from recent Digital Leaders event. Read three years on.