Councils need to convince social care staff that digital is crucial for the future provision of care in order to ensure people to use online services, Soctim has said.
Social care departments need social care workers to endorse online services – Photo credit: Pexels
A joint briefing note from Socitm, the Local Government Association and the Association of the Directors of Adult Social Services said that employees need to be seen as digital champions.
The note, Promotion of Online Services, sets out the best ways for local authorities to persuade patients and carers to use online facilities.
It said that the most important part is to gain the buy-in of the staff and partners involved in delivering social care, who will then be able to encourage their patients to use online services.
Social care departments must make sure that employees understand how the online system works, the briefing says. Because these workers are likely to be local residents, they can spread the word to family, friends and neighbours.
However, “if negative about change, they can quickly become a major barrier”.
The briefing note said that social care departments must develop a profile of current usage as a baseline for measuring take-up. This should look at the number of monthly visits fro online social care, the types and age of visitors – for instance is it a client or a carer – and what they completed online.
The briefing emphasised the importance of measuring progress, noting that a survey of councils found that 47% did not know whether there had been an increase in online use and 45% did not know how many visits a dedicated site for social care had in a month.
Establishing a baseline framework will allow the councils to monitor the success of the action they take.
It will also help persuade social care workers that people do want to access information online by “providing hard evidence that can be used to deal with doubters”, the note said.
The briefing note also stressed that the promotion of online services needs to be backed up by support from senior teams and the council’s corporate culture.
Social care departments could also benefit from digital inclusion programmes of awareness, training and support being run at a higher level, it said.
The note also suggests using an online citizen account in order to encourage uptake – something that has worked in other public services that are further ahead in online provision of services.
“Although hardly any council currently uses this feature for social care, it is well worth planning to do so,” the report said.
The briefing note is one of ten that the groups are producing to help councils effectively engage with citizens through online services.