Open Menu

Digital Social Care

Better Security, Better Care –April 2021 – Digital Social Care

Better Security, Better Care is a national and local support programme to help adult social care providers to store and share information safely. It covers paper and digital records. The programme helps care providers to evaluate and improve their data and cyber security. This means they can reassure the people they support and their families, staff, commissioners, regulators, and health and care partners, that they are following good practice – and meeting legal and regulatory requirements. The main focus of the Better Security, Better Care programme is to help providers to understand the importance of data and cyber security, and complete an annual, online self-assessment using the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT).

The programme includes:


Exploring the World of Assistive Technology: webinar 20 May – Digital Social Care

This interactive webinar is the second in a series of 6 sessions which will explore the ever-evolving world of assistive technology. Note that it is not necessary to have attended the first session to attend this session. The Sight and Sound Technology team will guide you through real life scenarios focusing on individuals with a variety of conditions and specific requirements. As a group we will discuss the suggested solutions and examine how assistive technology can offer support and enable people with a disability in a range of social care settings to maintain their mobility, independence, pursue their hobbies and interests, connect with friends and carers and to operate more effectively in everyday life.


Proxy access to GP online services by care home staff: Guidance for care homes and GP practices – Updated January 2021 - NHSEI

Did you know there’s a fast, safe and secure way to access your care home residents’ GP record and order their medications online? New step-by-step guidance from the NHS and LGA  will help care homes, GP practices and pharmacies to give authorised care staff proxy access to the GP online record of those they care for. Ensuring care staff can order medications online and access the accurate information needed to personalise care and support. This can save care home, practice and pharmacy staff time, whilst making the dispensing of medicines easier and creating an automatic audit trail. The guidance will also help care homes to access local support to implement proxy access.


Update on digital support for care providers – 18 January 2021 – LGA, DHSC, NHSX

An important part of the pandemic response has been the ability for care providers to use technology to ensure the continuation of healthcare and reduce the burden on staff. LGA, DHSC and NHSX are committed to support the sector to realise the potential gains from technology. The focus for winter has been on the delivery of the digital and technology elements contained in the DHSC Adult Social Care Winter Plan.

This letter and related annex includes a summary of the digital support available to the social care sector and how to access it.

Support includes:

  • Webinars for care providers and local authorities on digital support (recordings to follow shortly) 11,000 data enabled iPads delivered to care homes, plus support, advice and guidance to enable staff to use the iPads to best effect in supporting the health and wellbeing of residents.
  • Data Security Protection Toolkit for social care providers. This free, self-assessment toolkit helps care providers to show they can keep service users’ data and information safe and take reasonable steps to protect their organisation from cyber-attack. National and local support programmes are being put in place to enable care providers to use the toolkit and help secure compliance.

See also NHS blog – Connecting care providers


Scam emails and calls re Covid – 17 December 2020 – Digital Social Care

While coronavirus has led to big changes in the way that we live and work, cyber criminals have seen this as an opportunity. In emails and on the phone, they may claim to have a 'cure' for the virus or offer financial rewards. Like many scams, these criminals are preying on real-world concerns to try and trick you into interacting. They may also mimic real NHS and government messages. Digital Social Care have heard reports from care providers that they are getting phishing emails and calls from criminals pretending to be contacting them about the Covid-19 vaccine. Digital Social Care has published a useful article on this subject. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also provided advice to help you identify phishing attacks and what to do if you are a victim of crime. 


End of Transition Period: Keeping data safe – 3 December 2020 - CPA and Digital Social Care

The government has confirmed that the transition period will end on 31 December 2020 and there will be no extension. On 1 January 2021, the UK will become a “third country” for data protection purposes unless an adequacy decision is reached with the EU. If the European Commission grants an adequacy decision, then no action will need to be taken by social care providers. However, this briefing will help you with contingency planning and with what to do if an adequacy decision is not reached by 31 December 2020.

Data Security and Protection Toolkit updated – 1 December 2020 – Digital Social Care

Adult social care providers now have access to an updated tool to check if they are practising good data security and handling personal information correctly.

The Data Security Protection Toolkit – and accompanying guidance - have been reviewed to make them more relevant, practical and easier for care providers to use.

The online self-assessment tool enables organisations to measure and enhance their data and cyber security performance, and publish a statement demonstrating the standard of security that they have reached on an annual basis. 

The update, which was undertaken jointly by NHS Digital and Digital Social Care, included rewording questions and the addition of explanatory notes, tips and examples. 

Care providers are encouraged to register with the toolkit as soon as possible, even if they do not start to complete it immediately. A local and national support programme – Better Security, Better Care - enables all care providers to register and use the toolkit. Further support will be announced shortly.


Data Security and Protection Toolkit: survey – 17 November 2020  - NCA and Digital Social Care

National Care Association is working with Digital Social Care on a new project to support all providers become compliant with the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT).

As part of this project they will engage with suppliers of quality assurance and compliance tools to ensure they adopt the DSPT and best practice information governance requirements. To help them with the initial phase of the project they require information on which systems and policy providers care services use.

Please follow this link to enter suppliers’ details.

Ransomware Attacks: what they are and how to combat them – 3 November 2020 – Digital Social Care

Switching to more online and digital working in response to Covid-19 has led to greater risks of cybercrime. The City of London police revealed that it saw an increase of almost 72% in reported cybercrime in the first month of lockdown alone. To help care providers, Digital Social Care is focussing this month on sharing more information on cyber security and what to do to minimise risks.

Data Security and Protection Toolkit – 12 October 2020 – Digital Social Care

New questions and answers published 12 October on changes to DSPT. Key points:

When should I complete the DSPT?

The DSPT should be completed every year, usually by 31st March. However,  due to COVID-19, the deadline for 2019/20 was extended from to 30th September 2020, and the deadline for 2020/21 has been extended to 30th June 2021. This means that, if you have a continuing healthcare contract or you already use systems that access NHS patient data, to remain compliant you will need to complete the 2020/21 DSPT by 30th June 2021. Other services should aim to complete it by June 2021 for residential and nursing homes, and by October 2021 for other services.

I completed and published the DSPT at standards met between April 2020 and September 2020. Do I now need to do it again?

Yes – the toolkit you published between April and September 2020 will count as your submission for the year 2019/20. Because it is an annual process, to remain compliant you will need to complete the 2020/21 toolkit between now and the new deadline of 30th June 2021.

Will Entry Level be continuing?

Reflecting the need for adult social care services to operate in a way which meets the national data security standards, the option of publishing at entry level will come to an end on 31st December 2020. However, from April 2021, if you have done most of the DSPT but have a bit more work left to do, you’ll be able to get credit for the progress you have made by publishing at “Approaching Standards.” To do this, you’ll need to submit an action plan saying how and when you will complete the remaining items.

Plus Better Security, Better Care campaign questions.

Please note, however, that the Entry Level and Standards Met guides, to which there are links at the bottom of the first page of Q and A, are the existing versions. They are currently being updated to reflect upcoming changes to the toolkit.

11,000 iPads for care homes – 29 September 2020 – NHSX

NHSX is investing in up to 11,000 iPads (tablet devices) for care homes to improve access to healthcare services for care home residents and connect residents with their loved ones, and outlines how providers can apply for an iPad for their care home(s).

Each tablet device will include a 12-month support package and, for care homes without full access to WiFi, a data-enabled SIM card. The iPads will be ready to use straight out of the box.

Prioritisation of iPads will be to care homes that:

  • Receive all or some of their funding for residential care from the NHS or from a local authority.
  • Apply for an iPad using the NHSX order form .
  • Have less than one Apple or Android tablet device per 40 residents.

Care homes without any Apple or Android tablet devices:

  • Care homes with fewer than 40 residents will qualify for one iPad.
  • Care homes with 40 or more residents will qualify for two iPads.

Any remaining devices will be distributed to care homes according to assessed local need.

Technology and the Winter Plan – 24 September 2020 – Digital Social Care

In the winter plan, all care providers are asked to:

  • consider how technical or digital solutions may help to protect the people they support from COVID-19 and connect them to their loved ones
  • engage with the NHSX DSPT support offer and register with DSPT by 30 September 2020
  • alert the NHSX Information Governance team on if you need any advice.

The Digital Social Care team continues to offer a range of information, advice and tools to support care providers’ digital needs.

New version of Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) due October: register for info – 24 August 2020 – Digital Social Care

A new version of the DSPT designed for adult social care providers will be launched in October – all adult social care providers in England who have not already registered with the DSPT should do so by 30th September 2020, so that we can let you know when the new version of the DSPT has launched and how to access support. If you have not registered for the toolkit or not completed your registration there is still time to do so – at this stage

providers are only being asked to register for the toolkit rather than submit completed forms. 

A wide-ranging programme of support for the sector will launch in October including resources and assistance to help all adult social care providers, with a specific focus on small and medium-sized organisations registered with CQC.

See Digital Social Care’s guidance on how to register.

The Care Provider Alliance and its members lead a project on Digital Social Care - including a separate web resource:

What do you think about technology?  NHSX Survey§

NHSX is exploring how adoption of digital social care management tools could: benefit adult social care providers and the people they care for and support; and help social care systems integrate with NHS systems. Members of the CPA, and the Digital Social Care team are looking for adult social care providers to complete a short survey about using technology.

Front line care worker survey:

Senior decision maker survey for those who have responsibility for purchasing, IT or staff management

The survey will close at 5pm on Wednesday 9th September

NCF Hubble - NHS Digital Pathfinders Programme§

Social care providers operate in an increasingly digital world. But how do you know which digital technology will really work for your service, your staff and the people you support? How do you make investment decisions about electronic data systems or assistive technology, get buy in and ensure it is delivering what you need? The Hubble project, from CPA member the National Care Forum, can help.

The Hubble Project offers you the chance to virtually visit ‘innovation hubs’ (via webinar) to learn how other care providers have introduced, used and evaluated digital technology to improve care. The hubs are based in three care settings in England and showcase a range of technologies which include, electronic care planning, eMAR, acoustic monitoring, circadian lighting, sensor technology and telecare.

Through a mixture of prerecorded content and live Q&A, managers and staff will demonstrate the technology that they use, and share their digital journey with you, including how they came to adopt it, the challenges and the benefits of implementing and using it, and the use of data to improve the quality of care. The sessions will be of value to all care providers, regardless of where they are on the digital journey.

The virtual visit sessions will take place between September and December 2020.

Find out more and request a place at NCF Hubble.

Digital Social Care§

Digital Social Care is a dedicated space to provide advice and support to the sector on technology and data protection.

Key themes include:

  • Use of digital technology during coronavirus pandemic
  • The benefits of digital in social care
  • Protecting my information
  • Sharing care records via email
  • Measuring digital readiness
  • Choosing software and equipment

Resources include:

  • Completing Standards Met on the Data Security and Protection Toolkit
  • Completing Entry Level on the Data Security and Protection Toolkit
  • Guidance for staff on completing the Data Security and Protection Toolkit
  • How to document your data processing
  • Advice on contracts with third parties
  • Advice on contracts for secure disposal of personal data 
  • Template policies to help with completing the Data Security and Protection Toolkit
  • An introduction to Cyber Security
  • Grants for data and Cyber Security projects and providers
  • Data Security and Protection Toolkit and NHSmail Training materials

For details visit

Sign up to Digital Social Care newsletter

Data and Cyber Security Programme 2019/20 – report published – 3 June 2020

The report of the 2019/20 Data and Cyber Security Programme (sometimes known as the “Cabinet Office project”) has been published.

Digital Social Care has been working with th=e Local Government Association, NHS Digital and NHSX on how to help care providers benefit from the increased use of digital technology while also keeping safe and secure.

Over the last year, 24 local projects and 57 individual care providers have been exploring practical solutions to the challenges of data and cyber security. The full programme report, written by the Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University, and some new guidance on staff training in this area, can be downloaded via the Digital Social Care website. There are also videos from some of the projects, and a link to new guidance for commissioners.

Ian Turner, who leads the programme on behalf of Digital Social Care and the Care Provider Alliance, said:

“We know that while they meet the challenges of COVID-19, care providers have never been busier, and that data and cyber security may not seem an immediate priority at this time. However, the risks are still out there, and I would encourage all care providers to look carefully at this topic when they are able to. We hope that the information and guidance we publish will help them to do so.”

Coronavirus Digital Social Care helpline

If care providers would like to speak to a member of the Digital Social Care Team about the use of technology during Covid-19 they can contact the team at:

Telephone: 0208 133 3430 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)