Achieving Sustainability in Care Systems: The Potential of Technology, 2020-2021

Hamblin, Kate and Yeandle, Sue (2022). Achieving Sustainability in Care Systems: The Potential of Technology, 2020-2021. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Service. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-855010

The Sustainable Care programme focuses on the care needs of adults living at home with chronic health problems or disabilities, and seeks sustainable solutions to the UK's contemporary 'crisis of care'. It is distinctive in investigating sustainability and wellbeing in care holistically across care systems, work and relationships; addresses disconnection between theorisations of care in different disciplines; and locates all its research in the context of international scholarship, actively engaging with policy partners. It will fill knowledge gaps, contribute new theoretical ideas and data analyses, and provide useful, accurate evidence to inform care planning, provision and experience. It develops and critically engages with policy and theoretical debates about: care infrastructure (systems, networks, partnerships, standards); divisions of caring labour/the political economy of care (inequalities, exploitation); care ethics, rights, recognition and values (frameworks, standards, entitlements, wellbeing outcomes); care technologies and human-technological interactions; and care relations in emotional, familial, community and intergenerational context. Our team comprises 20 scholars in 7 universities, linked to an international network spanning 15 countries. Our programme comprises integrative activities, in which the whole team works together to develop a new conceptual framework on sustainable care and wellbeing, and two Work Strands, each with 4 linked projects, on 'Care Systems' and 'Care Work and; Relationships'. 'Care Systems' will: (i) study prospects, developments and differentiation in the four care systems operating in England, N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales, comparing their approaches to markets, privatisation and reliance on unpaid care; (ii) model costs and contributions in care, covering those of carers and employers as well as public spending on care; (iii) assess the potential of emerging technologies to enhance care system sustainability; and (iv) analyse, in a dynamic policy context, migrant care workers' role in the sustainability of homecare. 'Care Work and Relationships' will: (i) develop case studies of emerging homecare models, and assess their implications for sustainable wellbeing; (ii) focus on carers who combine employment with unpaid care, filling gaps in knowledge about the effectiveness of workplace support and what care leave and workplace standard schemes can contribute to sustainable care arrangements; (iii) explore how care technologies can be integrated to support working carers, ensuring wellbeing outcomes across caring networks; and (iv) investigate care 'in' and 'out of' place, as systems adapt or come under pressure associated with population diversity and mobility. Each project will collaborate with our international partners. These scholars, in 26 collaborating institutions, will ensure we learn from others about ways of understanding, measuring or interpreting developments in how care is organised and experienced, and keep up to date with latest research and scholarship. Our capacity-building strategy will build future scholarly expertise in the study of sustainability and wellbeing in care, and ensure our concepts, methods, and research findings achieve international standards of excellence. Universities in our partnership are contributing 5 UK and 12 overseas PhD studentships, enabling us to form an international early career scholar network on sustainable care, supported by our senior team and partners. Our impact strategy, led by Carers UK, involves leading UK and international policy partners. Informing policy, practice and debate, we will co-produce analyses and guidance, enhance data quality, promote good practice and engage decision-makers, policymakers, practitioners in the public, private and voluntary sectors, carers, people with care needs, and the media. Our Advisory Board of leading academics, policy/practice figures will guide all our work.

Data description (abstract)

Current social care systems face challenges to their sustainability due in part to population ageing and the changing nature of care needs. These have led to a mismatch between care supply and demand and more complexity, as many people, especially those over 75, experience co-morbid chronic conditions. Geography and population diversity also pose challenges for the design and delivery of social care. Familial networks of care are increasingly dispersed and complex, rural populations are ageing, and in some urban settings populations are very diverse. Rising numbers of older adults live alone (some experiencing loneliness, isolation and the associated, negative, impacts on their wellbeing and health) and a growing minority of older people have no children who could support them. At the same time, social care is underfunded and failing to keep pace with the escalating and changing nature of care demand, with some local authorities struggling to deliver wellbeing outcomes (both for those in need of care and their carers, as required in England’s Care Act 2014). Some are also finding it challenging to contract with care providers able to deliver reliable services of good quality. Wider, more systematic use of technology in care at home, and advanced technologies in development, are often seen as offering promising solutions to these challenges, yet the place of technology as a source of future sustainability in the care system is far from clear. 'Achieving sustainability in care systems: the potential of technology' aims to: • Map the changing role of technologies within care systems in: a) planning/organisation of social care; b) delivery of social care through the support received by people living in their own homes; c) collection and communication of data between different parts of the care system, including its integration with health care. • Explore the potential role of technologies in developing sustainable care systems: a) using a future-oriented perspective and broad view of advances in technology; b) focusing on areas of promise for sustainability / wellbeing in care at home) using cross-national comparisons and stakeholder input to address issues of practical, attitudinal and ethical acceptability, and design and other requirements needed to embed technologies in care systems. 'Achieving sustainability in care systems: the potential of technology' is part of the Sustainable Care research programme.

Data creators:
Creator Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
Hamblin Kate University of Sheffield
Yeandle Sue University of Sheffield
Name Affiliation ORCID (as URL)
Wright James Alan Turing Institute
Sponsors: ESRC
Grant reference: ES/P009255/1
Topic classification: Social welfare policy and systems
Science and technology
Project title: Sustainable Care: connecting people and systems programme
Grant holders: Sue Yeandle, Starr Madeleine, Manthorpe Jill, Burns Diane, Phillimore Jenny, Glasby Jon, Kilkey Majella, Heyes Jason, Fast Janet, Hamblin Kate, Keating Norah, Bennett Matthew, Hussein Shereen, Needham Catherine, Rutherford Alasdair
Project dates:
6 November 201731 August 2021
Date published: 28 Oct 2021 16:16
Last modified: 18 Nov 2022 16:50

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