Older people using VR headsets
Ongoing Project

Social Care Innovation Programme

European Union - European Regional Development Fund logo HM Government - Northern Powerhouse logo

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Northern Powerhouse.

Project summary

The Challenge

Addressing the challenges faced in social care using technologies to support care recipients, professionals, families and friends

The Approach

The £1.5M Social Care Innovation Programme (SCIP) launched in 2021, aims to enhance quality and increase sustainability in the social care sector.

The Outcome

The programme will explore how care providers can implement and use innovative technology to enhance the quality and sustainability of their services.

Lead academics

Funded by

Project partners

The Challenge

Social Care Innovation Programme

Adult social care is under pressure, experiencing high demands and limited resources, which have been deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Technologies have considerable potential to help address the challenges experienced in services such as care homes, domiciliary care, and day centres.

They may play important roles such as:

  • Improving the quality of experience for people using the services and care staff.
  • Increasing well-being and promoting independence.
  • Improving systems and care delivery through better organisation, recording and monitoring.
  • Enabling staff and care recipients to contact professionals, families, and friends remotely.
  • Enabling staff to spend more time with care recipients and less time on paperwork.

However, despite these potential benefits, social care providers may be unaware of the available technologies, may have poor digital infrastructures (including poor Wi-Fi coverage and staff skills), and there is little evidence about how technologies are being used in practice.

There is therefore a need to ensure that care services have access to the technologies that meet their needs, alongside robust research to establish an evidence base for the implementation and efficacy of technologies.

Man using technology
“Social care is being left behind health care with regards to the quality and level of evidence available to support the spread and implementation of new digital tools within the sector. Without more support, it is likely to be left even further behind.”

King's Fund 2021

The full research team

The Approach

The University of Hull (UoH), and East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) have received part funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Northern Powerhouse to support a £1.5 Million project to drive innovation in the social care sector.

The Social Care Innovation Programme (SCIP) employs a research-led approach, identifying the key challenges for social care providers, and the smart technologies that can be implemented to support them in reducing the challenges they face.

Our approach consists of three phases:

Phase 1: Scoping exercise

Social care providers, working in collaboration with ERYC and UoH are identifying the problems that they face in delivering and/or improving their services, and are exploring ways with us in which innovative technology may offer cost-effective ways to help them meet these challenges. Technology providers are also being identified and sourced to offer potential technological solutions to address these challenges.

A survey was conducted with SME care providers to scope their current technology, click here for the findings: Phase 1 scoping exercise

Phase 2: Implementation

Social care providers have the opportunity to apply for innovation grant funding (provided by the European Regional Development Fund with match funding from ERYC and the University of Hull) to support the procurement and implementation of technologies and products. This enables them to develop new services, enhance the quality of care, increase productivity and sustainability, and improve the quality of life of those for whom they provide care, and indeed of the staff who provide support. ERYC and the UoH will provide support to SMEs which have been successful in their application for funding, to implement the new technology in their workplace.

To support SMEs with the procurement of digital technology, the UoH has created a repository of information related to some of the digital products that are available to support the care sector.

Access the Digital Technology Repository.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for those working in the social care sector as well as benefitting those receiving care. Our social care sector has worked tirelessly both during and before the pandemic, and I can guarantee they will continue to work tirelessly in the future. This programme will enable our social care sector to work more efficiently and smoothly to enable an even better wealth of care provision to those who need it.”

Yvonne Rhodes

Head of business management and commissioning at East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Phase 3: Evaluation

The evaluation is now complete and the findings can be found here: FHS Evaluation of SCIP programme 2023. The Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Hull served as the academic partner for the project and captured qualitative and quantitative data from SMEs on the organisational impact of new technologies. Our report highlights staff experience of implementing and using technologies in the social care sector with key learning points for organisations supporting digital and support for performance monitoring, and collecting qualitative data about the experiences of managers, staff and care recipients.

Man on Computer
“Social care providers play a crucial role in supporting some of the most vulnerable members of the community. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the dedication, expertise and compassion of social care providers, and highlighted the difficult challenges that they face daily. This research project will help to find ways in which social care providers can use technology to overcome these challenges, develop new services, and improve the quality of life in those they care for.”

Dr David Barrett

Senior lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Principal Investigator for the SCIP

For further information about the project, please visit the ERYC website.