Empowering social care through digital innovation: My Topol Digital Fellowship journey
Preet Shergill, a current Topol Digital Fellow, discusses his Fellowship project on falls prevention and why digital transformation in social care is so important.
The Topol Digital Fellowship has been a groundbreaking initiative, fostering innovation and collaboration within the UK healthcare sector. As a passionate advocate for digital innovation in social care, I am excited to be part of Cohort 4, which marked the first year that social care was included in this prestigious programme. In this series of 3 blogs, I will share my journey through the Topol Digital Fellowship, focusing on the importance of integrating social care into the wider healthcare conversation, and my project on digital data and falls prevention.
The value of social care in the Topol Digital Fellowship
Being one of the first social care Topol Digital Fellows is a tremendous milestone. This inclusion acknowledges the crucial role social care plays in the broader healthcare ecosystem. It provides a unique opportunity for social care professionals like me to collaborate, learn from NHS colleagues, and have a voice in shaping the future of healthcare. The inclusion of social care recognises the pivotal role social care plays within the broader landscape of healthcare. Historically, healthcare conversations have often centred primarily around the NHS, with social care being overshadowed despite its undeniable impact on the well-being of vulnerable individuals and communities. The incorporation of social care in the Fellowship is a powerful step towards bridging this gap and promoting a more holistic approach to healthcare.
Embracing digital innovation in social care
In my role, I champion the use of technology to drive improvement and prioritise individual-focused care. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presented us with an opportunity to transform our care services by migrating from a paper-based care records system to a digital care records platform. This transition not only streamlined our processes but also led to increased transparency, which directly correlates with the provision of higher quality care to our residents. Other successful digital projects for empowerment include a cloud-based rota and communication platform which revolutionised our employee management and communication. This cloud-based platform streamlined shift scheduling, enabling our staff to access their schedules conveniently, improved communication between teams facilitated better coordination, ultimately leading to enhanced resident care. We also implemented an applicant tracking system to address recruitment challenges in the sector. This technology allows us to identify and recruit qualified candidates swiftly, ensuring a continuous and robust workforce.
My project: digital, data and falls prevention
For my Fellowship project, I have chosen to focus on falls prevention, which is a critical concern for people living in care homes. Falls are harmful, emotionally difficult for residents and relatives, costly, and challenging to prevent. The impact of falls is significant, as they may lead to emergency hospital admissions and fractures, resulting in both physical and psychological consequences for residents.
The public health data highlights the urgent need for falls prevention strategies, given the impending exponential growth in the 85+ age group. In my local county of Buckinghamshire, the number of people over 85 is projected to rise by 78% over the next 12 years. The total annual cost of fragility fractures to the UK, including social care, is estimated at £4.4 billion.
My project aims to leverage digital, data and new technology to gain insights into falls prevention and develop effective strategies. By harnessing data insights, we can learn quickly and proactively address falls risks. Additionally, we seek to explore the future of falls prevention and how digital innovations can play a transformative role in mitigating this issue.
Collaboration and representation
Collaboration has been at the core of my Fellowship experience so far. Engaging with inspiring colleagues, learning from experts in various domains like design thinking and agile, impact measurement, design research and discovery, and machine learning concepts has been invaluable. However, it has also highlighted the previous disparity between NHS and social care colleagues’ access to platforms, such as the FutureNHS collaboration channel.
As a representative of social care in the Topol Digital Fellowship, I am committed to bridging this gap and ensuring that social care professionals have equal access to transformative resources and opportunities.
My Fellowship journey to date has been a transformative experience, empowering me to advocate for digital innovation in social care and explore essential projects like falls prevention. As we continue to strive for better care outcomes, the integration of technology and data-driven insights will play a crucial role in shaping the future of social care.
I am grateful for the opportunity to represent social care in this prestigious Fellowship, and I am excited to contribute to the advancement of healthcare by leveraging the power of collaboration and digital innovation. Together, we can create a future where every individual receives the highest quality of care and support, irrespective of their age or health condition.
Page last reviewed: 28 July 2023
Next review due: 29 July 2024