The Committee received a presentation from the Director of Adults and Communities, the purpose of which was to provide an update on the work of the Adults and Communities Department to develop its Digital Strategy and to give an opportunity for the Committee to ask questions about the future proposals. A copy of the slides presented to the Committee marked ‘Agenda Item 9’, is filed with these minutes.
Arising from discussion the following points were raised:
(i) Members were pleased to note that the Department’s digital offer was not intended to replace existing services but was instead complementary. The Director advised that there would always be a requirement for person to person contact to be used to connect with service users. For example, social workers making home visits or the Customer Service Centre responding to enquiries by phone. It was also recognised that there would always be some service users that preferred this method of contact. However, as society became more digitally aware, other service users and family members, who could often be more digitally connected, preferred to make use of the digital service options available. Members noted that a high proportion of the contact received by the Department was from a range of professionals, many of whom would already be prepared and willing to connect with the Department’s services via digital means.
(ii) The Council’s Superfast Leicestershire project was designed to bring fibre broadband to as many premises in Leicestershire as possible and so the Department’s Digital Strategy did not specifically focus on improving service users’ access to broadband. However, if a person had registered for direct payments as part of their care package, it would be possible for a sum of the direct payment to be used to cover this. For example, broadband may be needed if virtual assistant technology had been included in a service users’ support plan to assist with tasks such as giving meal and medication prompts.
(iii) Members highlighted the need to sustain focus on who the end of user of the technology proposed would be i.e. the service user and care providers and the need to ensure the technology worked for the whole community including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities where there may be some language barriers. It was felt that getting feedback from the people that would be using the technology throughout the various stages would be key. The Director stated that discussing and receiving the views of the people involved would be crucial for the Strategy to be successful and to ensure all the elements were right for the whole community, including those who were non-English speaking citizens. Members noted that the Department planned to host engagement through existing customer and focus groups at the appropriate stages of the various technologies being rolled out. Members further noted that one of the aims of the Strategy was to make certain processes simpler, for example the procurement of language translation technology which currently had to be bought in from a third party at a considerable cost to the Council.
(iv) Regarding the timescales for implementing a Shared Care Record (SCR) for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR), it was expected that the system foundations would be in place by the end of this year. In response to comments raised by a member regarding the several past attempts made by NHS England to create a national Record with minimal success, it was acknowledged that the process for joining up health and care data to create a single record was complex. The Director advised that one of the main issues that had caused complications in the past, which was not planned to be used when implementing a SCR for LLR, was the feature of having live updates and feeds to allow more than one worker to update a service user’s record synchronously. Members requested that the developers responsible for implementing the local SCR programme be invited to a future Committee meeting to provide further information around the scope of the project.
(v) The Committee welcomed the positive work the Department had been undertaking to develop its Digital Strategy and enhance the services it was able to offer.
(a) That the presentation on the work of the Adults and Communities Department to develop its Digital Strategy be welcomed.
(b) That an update regarding the development of a Shared Care Record be presented at a future meeting.