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Virtual visits to social care centres of digital innovation: NCF and NHS Digital launch new Hubble Project

The use of digital technology has rapidly expanded during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Yet many social care providers are still struggling to make the most of technology to improve care.

A new project, launched today by the National Care Forum with funding from NHS Digital’s Digital Pathfinders Programme, will help care providers to understand the benefits of technology, how to build a business case for investment, and how to successfully introduce, use and evaluate technology.

The Hubble Project offers senior decision makers 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 sessions cover a wide range of technology so that they will be of value to all care providers, regardless of where they are on the digital journey.

Speaking about the new project, Vic Rayner, chief executive of NCF said:

“Many care providers want to progress along their digital journey – but they feel they don’t have the knowledge or confidence to make what can be big decisions about investment and implementation in technology. Being able to learn from colleagues who have been there and done that can overcome some of those concerns.

“These are warts-and-all sessions, where care providers will share the lessons they have learned. Our virtual visitors will also have access to a wide range of resources after the visits, including a toolkit to support building a business case, getting buy in, and implementation. And the tech suppliers featured during the sessions are also offering participants a time-limited reduction on the cost of their technology.”

James Palmer, Social Care Programme Head at NHS Digital, said:

“Involving care providers was a core founding principle of the NHS Digital Social Care Programme when it was established in 2015. All projects funded through the Pathfinders programme were required to support products and services that have the potential to make a big difference to the digitisation of the sector.

“We are delighted that NCF is using this innovative approach. It is so valuable to share direct experiences of introducing and using tech and these virtual visits will be accessible to a greater number of organisations than a physical visit would be.”

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 pre-recorded content and live Q&A, managers and staff will demonstrate the technology that they use, and share their digital journey, 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 virtual visit sessions will take place between September 2020 and December 2020. The sessions are aimed at decision makers within residential, home care and housing providers. The session hosted by Johnnie Johnson Housing will be of particular interest to housing associations, retirement communities and home care providers.

Bookings are now open for the 30 sessions at

NCF’s Hubble Project is funded by NHS Digital’s Social Care Digital Pathfinders grant. The project’s aim is to support and inspire the care sector to embrace digital technology in their care settings in order to improve people’s lives through the use of technology based, data-enabled care.

Notes to Editors

The National Care Forum (NCF)

  • The National Care Forum brings together 120 of the UK’s leading social care charities. Collectively, these charities deliver more than £1.9 billion of social care support to more than 135,000 people in 6500 settings. The NCF membership body collectively employs more than 85,000 colleagues.
  • More information is available on the National Care Forum at @NCFCareForum @vicrayner @NCF_Liz
  • For enquiries, please contact Edna Petzen (

The Digital Hubs

The Beeches, Parkhaven Trust

The Beeches is a new residential and nursing service for people with dementia run by the Parkhaven Trust. The service has been designed with guidance from the Dementia Design Centre at Stirling University to provide the highest quality environment to cater for the needs of people with dementia. It consists of three households which will care for up to 15 people each. Parkhaven Trust has installed circadian lighting, acoustic monitoring and electronic care planning to ensure that people are supported and cared for using the latest technology and to support staff to spend more time with people.

The Beeches will be showcasing:

Rashwood, Elizabeth Finn Homes

Rashwood, near Droitwich, is a 53-roomed nursing and care home for adults in Worcestershire. It is one of ten homes operated by Elizabeth Finn Homes across England and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the charity Turn2us.

Rashwood has been using iCareHealth (now Access Care and Clinical) for electronic planning and iCareMeds (now Access Medication Management) for electronic medicines administration records since July 2018 and September 2018 respectively. The systems are linked, providing staff and management with more accurate, up-to-date information about their residents and their care, including their medicines.

Rashwood will be showcasing:

Spey House, Johnnie Johnson Housing

Spey House provides age and dementia-friendly, fully WiFi enabled extra care housing for people aged over 55 in Reddish, near Stockport. Managed by Johnnie Johnson Housing, Spey House offers 61 one-bedroom flats, and two 2 two-bedroom flats. Residents have their own independent apartments, with access to a range of support services on site.

Astraline is Johnnie Johnson Housing’s telecare and response service, helping to give residents at Spey House the confidence to go about their daily activities. Astraline supports more than 70,000 people across the country with what is known in the industry as technology-enabled care.

Astraline will be showcasing:

  • The Go, a digital GPS telecare device, by Chiptech
  • The Eva, an at-home digital telecare device, by Chiptech
  • The Howz, passive sensor technology, by Intelesant
  • Essence deluxe wristwatch, wearable GPS device by, Smartwatcher

Visitors will be made aware of a range of technology suppliers available to the social care sector. Showcasing of technology as part of the Hubble project does not imply endorsement of the technology or named suppliers by the National Care Forum or NHS Digital.

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