Digital working in adult social care: What Good Looks Like – GOV.UK

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Updated 17 May 2023

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When technology is embedded seamlessly into care and support it can be transformative, improving people’s quality of life and ensuring information is readily available to help staff provide the right care in the right place at the right time.  
This framework sets out what good digital working looks like for care providers and local authorities with responsibility for adult social care in England. It provides a series of common goals for these organisations to work towards that will help achieve the vision set out in People at the Heart of Care. It is an aspirational framework designed to be used by local authorities and care providers of all sizes and types of service, including both Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered and non-registered providers.
The guidance is aimed at individuals who have responsibility for digital transformation in local authorities and care provider organisations. This might include digital leads, directors of adult social services, commissioners and service managers. However, we recognise there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and roles may differ depending on where you work.
The content in the framework has been developed in collaboration with Partners in Care and Health (a partnership between the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)), provider sector stakeholders and through a series of workshops and interviews with providers, local authorities and national membership organisations. We are grateful to everyone who participated in these discussions, shared feedback and helped to shape the guidance.  
The What Good Looks Like (WGLL) framework for adult social care is part of a suite of guidance for digital working across health and social care, developed by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). It is structured around the following 7 success measures for digital working in adult social care services: 
Figure 1 below contains a diagram showing an infographic of a wheel divided into 7 sections. Each section represents one of the 7 success measures for the What Good Looks Like framework. Surrounding the wheel are the 3 categories that define goals for digital transformation in health and social care: transform, digitise, connect.
Figure 1: the 7 measures for the WGLL framework, divided into 3 categories
Local authorities and care providers play an important role in supporting the objectives of their integrated care system (ICS). This guidance builds on the NHS England What Good Looks Like framework, which provides clear guidance across 7 success measures for health and care leaders to digitise, connect and transform services safely and securely. Nurses working in social care may also be interested in the publication Guidance for nursing on ‘What Good Looks Like’.
We are developing an advice and guidance website, building on the current Digital Social Care website, which provides access to trusted information, case studies and guidance resources. Over time these resources will be expanded to include templates, standards and self-assessment tools which will focus on supporting all organisations, regardless of their starting point, to understand how they can work towards the principles covered by the 7 success measures.
Details on funding opportunities can also be found on the Digital Social Care website. This includes information to support you to identify and get in touch with the regional leads who work within your ICS. You can also explore how to connect with your ICS through local authorities or care provider associations.
Further support and resources for local authorities can be found through the Digital Transformation Team at Partners in Care and Health and the Knowledge Hub community forum for local authority officers.
The content in this framework will be updated based on feedback. If you have comments, please contact
Throughout the sections below there are links to further resources and tools to support you in your digital journey. The framework can also be used alongside related guidance resources for digital working, such as the:
Your organisation’s leaders fully understand the benefits of digital technology and have the confidence and capability to drive forward digital transformation, sharing and learning from best practice.
Having a clear vision and credible strategy for how to use digital technology ensures the transformative power of technology is felt throughout an organisation. This results in benefits for people who draw on social care, as you enhance the quality of care through the improved use of technologies and information or by being able to better support the workforce.  
It is essential that the leadership, management and governance of adult social care organisations support digital innovation, understand risks and effectively manage change. By engaging with good practice, learning from and proactively sharing with others across the sector, leaders can improve understanding of digital technology and make best use of evidence to invest in technologies. This will ensure services meet people’s needs – improving quality and safety of care, freeing up time or capacity and/or supporting people to live independently for longer. Participating in professional networks at local, regional or national level can help to facilitate this.
Achieving safe and effective digital transformation requires organisations to safely use data to inform and improve decision-making and planning, and to understand the ethical and legal issues that can arise through using digital technology, including issues of consent. Secure data sharing for direct care purposes is encouraged and organisations should seek appropriate advice on information governance when sharing data for secondary purposes. The rights, interests and preferences of people drawing on social care should always be at the heart of decision-making on when to use digital technologies. 
Your organisation has modern and secure digital infrastructure, and staff have reliable access to comprehensive and up-to-date digital records.  
Access to secure connectivity, the right technology and the right digital and data processes is fundamental to the use of digital solutions to improve people’s care outcomes. By considering factors including your size, geography, demography and capability, you ensure your organisation is digitally well-equipped to provide positive outcomes for people who draw on care and staff. 
Information is securely communicated across health and social care settings through a secure email platform to support integrated and joined up approaches to care. Ensuring care professionals have access to critical information about an individual person, through a single DSCR, means they have the right information at their fingertips to provide the best possible care. As an organisation, you invest in digital systems so accurate information is readily available to support person-centred care.  
Good data and cyber security means organisations can safely use and share information which can improve care and support for people. 
As an organisation, you take informed steps to protect people’s health and care information against cyber threats and data breaches and to give care workers the knowledge and confidence to appropriately use and share information. You are assured that all suppliers you use for software or care technology follow robust cyber security and data handling processes. This helps to ensure people’s data is handled in a way that is safe and secure.  
Safe digital practice requires staff to be competent in avoiding breaches of data at a level appropriate to their role. By upskilling staff and sharing knowledge on cyber security and information governance, you build confidence in sharing information for individual care whilst protecting people’s confidentiality. This is supported by clear policies and processes, including business continuity plans, to respond to data breaches and cyber security issues. Organisations create and promote a non-blame culture where staff feel safe to raise concerns about data breaches.  
It is essential to stay up-to-date with digital safety standards and regulatory, policy and legislative changes relating to data security. Where a cyber security or data breach does occur, you report this to the relevant authority as required and use learning to continuously improve mitigation and recovery plans. 
Supporting your workforce means developing a skilled, capable workforce who can confidently identify, recommend and use appropriate technology safely and effectively for people drawing on social care.
As an organisation, you embed a clear vision for digital working and support your staff – in all roles and at all levels – to review and develop their digital skills and provide access to appropriate development opportunities.   
You develop ways of working that focus on informing and raising awareness of digital technology and communicating the benefits. Myth-busting, reassurance, confidence-building and a learning culture are promoted.
Staff are given the time and commitment to develop digital confidence and capability, and are equipped to use technologies to access the information they need safely. Staff are also engaged in testing and embedding new technologies to ensure they are fit for purpose and support effective delivery of quality care.  
Digital leadership skills are embedded and become a ‘normal’ part of every leader’s role as you understand that technology benefits people drawing on your service, your organisation and workforce.  
A person-centred approach to the design and use of digital technologies can improve people’s quality of life and wellbeing and support independence.  
Technology can be used by an individual, their carer or their care provider to support quality of life and the provision of high-quality, safe and personalised care. It can play an important role in supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing, helping maintain independence, supporting people to remain connected to their loved ones or communities, or through online access to entertainment, hobbies and learning.  
By co-producing the development and delivery of your digital strategy with the people your organisation supports, you can ensure people who draw on care, their families and care networks are equal partners in shaping digital services.  
As an organisation, you ensure people understand the benefits and opportunities associated with the use of digital technology in social care, acknowledging and respecting individual choice around whether a person wishes to use technology as part of their care. People are supported to feel confident selecting and using the most appropriate tools to support their independence and wellbeing and you empower individuals and their carers to securely access and contribute to their DSCR.  
People understand their rights and the ethical issues that can arise around the use of digital technology and data and are confident in the ability of your organisation to protect their rights when implementing technology and using health and care data.
Effective use of digital technology, data and processes can support the delivery of outstanding quality and personalised care and support at the right place and at the right time. 
The use of digital technology should enhance the quality of social care, free up time for meaningful human interaction and create stronger connections between people who draw on care, their friends, family and care networks. 
As an organisation, you use technology to improve the provision of care and support for people to have choice, control and independence. This means embedding technology to support services and using insight from data to continuously drive improvements in care quality and safety. This includes improving equity to ensure people have access to high-quality care no matter who or where they are. You have a digital shared care record and work with local and regional partners to support and achieve this, ensuring that direct care information can safely be shared across health and social care as part of an integrated system. 
Having good data to understand and plan for the needs of the population (whether at a community level or individual level) means that we can reduce inequalities and improve outcomes for all people. 
Support can be targeted where it is needed most by using data insights to drive improvements to the health and wellbeing of the populations we serve. By working with partners and people who draw on social care, and their carers, we can improve services based on a holistic understanding of current and future need.
Building an evidence base of what works well through collaboration with educational and academic establishments, health partners and suppliers across the sector is crucial to effectively embedding and scaling digital solutions that improve the quality and safety of care.  
It is essential that personal data is used appropriately and safely for research, service improvement or commissioning purposes. Organisations drive data innovation in line with legal requirements and information governance guidance, offering transparency and individual choice around use of data for purposes other than direct care and seeking advice where necessary.  
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