• 11 October 2021
  • 47 min read

Digital Care Technology - Daniel Casson Interview

  • Liam Palmer
    Registered Home Manager
    • Mat Martin
  • 0
  • 288

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In this podcast, Liam Palmer chats to Daniel Casson about digital technology in the world of care.

Liam Palmer:

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This is Liam Palmer here on the Care Quality podcast, Meet The Leaders & Innovators. Delighted to have Daniel Casson, who is a subject expert on digital health regarding social care. Daniel, a very warm welcome to you.

Daniel Casson:

Thank you very much, Liam. Looking forward to talking to you.

Liam Palmer:

Let's just start with what you're doing today so people can understand what you do, and then we'll go back into a little bit of the backstory.

Daniel Casson:

So, today I'm an independent consultant in Digital Social Care, working very closely with Care England, the care home umbrella organization, as their digital transformation advisor. But that leads on to a lot of other things, so for example, as part of that I work as part of the Digital Social Care team, which was originally an NHS Digital funded initiative and taken on by the members of the Care Providers Alliance to actually help social care providers transform digitally what they do. So, we're a real resource. So, you go to the website for Digital Social Care and there's so much resource there for people in social care wanting to see what digital tools they can employ.

And as part of that, it leads me into other fields. So for example, I now work with a leadership organization called My Home Life, which is about training registered managers and about...

My role is to say, "Technology is your friend. We can make it actually work for the people we care for and the people that we work with."So, my whole ethos is about bringing innovation and the spirit of adventure almost into care that we can improve and innovate, so that leads me to other things.

So, I work with various care providers on their digital transformation strategy, and on the other side, very interesting, I work with innovators in tech who are actually bringing new stuff into the care world.

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Liam Palmer:

Got it. Yeah, no, so you're sort of straddling those different sides.

Daniel Casson:

That's right.

Liam Palmer:

And you're getting information from several parts of the sort of ecosystem of social care, I suppose, and that's why it's a particular treat for me, actually. Very interested in technology as a conduit for better service and better quality, which is ultimately what it's about, isn't it? And you have got a strong background in social care. We'll get onto that in a bit.

So I mean, it's fascinating for people developing their social care career sort of to listen to someone who is successful, who's carved out a sort of niche consultancy in a sort of booming area. How on earth did you do that, and what were your sort of formative experiences in your career that have brought you to this point? I mean, can you tell us a little bit about sort of where you started out? I know it starts with Egypt, doesn't it? Do you want to take us through [crosstalk 00:03:36]?

Daniel Casson:

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:03:37]. I mean, the interesting thing about working social care is everyone's got their journey into it. Everyone's got their journey into it, so different. No one is unique, but everyone's unique as well. That's the point. So, my journey into social care came through my international development expertise, because I originally studied Arabic at university and that led me to working in Egypt, where I lived for four years in the mid '90s.

And seeing the great inequality in society there really sparked something in me that this is an area I want to be working with. So via that, through my experience in Egypt I got involved in international development, which led me to work in former Yugoslavia, in Kosovo, in Bosnia, and there I was seeing always about how societies were made unequal and how people were pitted against each other and what that did to families and underlying health and mental health and how the societies were destroyed.

Daniel Casson:

So, I worked in international development and then the natural development for me was when as I became older and more mature I saw the problems aren't actually just international. They're not happening just in the former Yugoslavia. They're on my own doorstep here, the inequalities that we were seeing in here, and that led me to working back in the early 2000s for Jewish Care, where I joined as business development manager there.

So, that was an organization running care homes, home care, community centers, community outreach, and really being a community resource. So, that's my... My genesis in social care is from that community resource, but bringing all my experience of the international development. During that journey I did an MBA, where I focused on business efficiency, but also on charities and how not-for profit organizations can work more closely together, and that also led me into social care as well.

Liam Palmer:

Okay, perfect. And what was your experiences of working social care? I mean, Jewish Care, very well-regarded organization. How was that 13 years? What did you get from it?

Daniel Casson:

I learned so much. I learned about the basics of all the various people that were involved in social care. What my role was actually... People are actually very good at running the business. They're actually very good. The registered manager, amazing. The staff teams are incredible. But for me, a lot of it was bringing the outside influence in as well, because I want people to see the good work that was going on in Jewish Care, and I also wanted people from Department of Health, as it was then before it became the Department of Health and Social Care, from the Department of Health to see what we were doing and create models from that.

So, one of the best things, one of the most interesting things we did was we had a delegation from Kenya which came in because they wanted to see how health and social care worked on the ground, and the advice we could give them was if you're setting up a health system, which they were doing in Kenya at the time, make sure that it actually involves social care, because one of the issues we have in the UK and England at the moment is that when the health service was set up in 1948, there was no foresight. They couldn't have the foresight then that social care would become such an important part of the health and wellbeing of the nation.

So, it was sharing that experience. So, internally I was managing the business and externally I was bringing people in and sharing models that we could share.

Liam Palmer:

I see.

Daniel Casson:

My whole drive is to actually create a good business and share that expertise with other people.

Liam Palmer:

I see. Yeah, yeah. Perfect. And we talked before about how you started to get involved in sort of electronic stuff. Do you want to talk about how that came about and what that entailed at Jewish Care?

Daniel Casson:

There were two areas where it came to the fore, really. One, let's start with the business side of what I was doing. It was about this constant journey to try and analyze the data that we were working with, because I wanted to create an organization which was giving the best service to people by being more efficient in focusing where we focused the limited resources.

So for me, it was about how do we bring all that data together and try and use it for people, because we're a people business. We're not a technology business. We're a people business.

So, it was drawing people in from technology outside, saying, "This is the data we've got. How can I use it to make sure the registered managers and the care teams have the best information they can?" So that was the one side of it, that data. I was constantly looking to feed back to the registered managers, so we were running thirteen care homes at the time and the five home care services, feed back to them the data so that they could see where things could be improved.

Daniel Casson:

And the second side was when Jewish Care instituted digital care records for the first time and seeing the difference that that made, the constant data feed about people so that you could get to know their likes. It made handovers easier. And also about how... Really interested in how that was rolled out across an organization responsibly, involving people, involving people in the decision making, getting [crosstalk 00:08:47]. The phased rollout was really, really important, it became, and then more and more that... That was the start for me in realizing actually, this is going to revolutionize what we do.

Liam Palmer:

And for those who might not be sort of familiar with the difference that a good digital care planning system can make to a care home, do you want to just explain that a little bit? Because it can be a bit radical, and it's not just about the system, is it? You were touching on it there. It's kind of how it actually impacts teamwork, communication, et cetera. Do you want to explain that a bit more? Because it's kind of radical, isn't it?

Daniel Casson:

There's probably people who can do it better than me because there's people who are saying actually it is the basis. The digital carers are the basis for care. If we want... One of the main things is about continuity of care, if a person that we're supporting and caring for can experience a continuity in the care they're receiving, and that's what digital care records can do because they allow you to see a past history easily.

They allow you to plan based on this person's desired quality of life. Their outcomes. You can record their outcomes. You can link in photographs. You can potentially link in family. They can help people design their own care outcomes, their own care planning.

What's interesting actually is what I've found more and more recently is if you are working with younger people, working age adults as well, helping them design and be part of that design of their care planning can really involve them. So, digital care plans just empower in the end the person who's receiving care to have the full suite of being monitored, so that when there's handovers, things aren't missed about what the person's like, their recent experience. And it builds up. What you can do is you build up a digital picture of a person which can then be transferred to their care.

Liam Palmer:

Got it.

Daniel Casson:

So, the key is linking the digital care records in with other pieces of information about the person, linking it in with potentially data coming from the GP, potentially data coming from their food preferences, potentially data coming from the work they were doing with allied health professionals. So, it's the hub around which we can focus care. It really gives us another chance of focusing, centering the care truly around the person.

Many staff teams I've worked with say actually, this is empowering them because they get more. They can review things. And one of the classics being if there's a safeguarding issue, it's so much easier to review all the data you have.

Liam Palmer:

Of course it is. Yeah.

Daniel Casson:

I mean, we don't want to get to that point, but it is. There can be complaints. There can be safeguarding issues and we can always easily review the information. So, it's life-changing for a care home to have a digital care record system.

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. And before I ask you about that, sort of a little bit about that transition, I mean, just a minor point. I mean, what's fascinating for me when I think about some of the smartest peers I know and work with and respect, Neil Eastwood, Isaac Theophilos, [crosstalk 00:12:16]. Gentleman from-

Daniel Casson:

Great people.

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. Absolutely. Gentleman from Sunrise who's now moved across. There's four people I know that have moved from sort of more on the care provider path to tech, so I find that really fascinating that some of the greatest brains are sort of moving. But actually you're looking after the needs of the care providers by developing the tech up a bit, aren't we? So, do you want to tell us a bit about that, sort of that transition part or where your interest was really sparked?

Daniel Casson:

One of the interesting things is when staff teams use digital technology, it increases their... I mean, Neil Eastwood would talk more about this, about it increases their affiliation with the organization if they're trained with the organization. So it's actually a point of pride. I remember some organizations I've worked with where people have left and they've left to organizations which weren't so technologically advanced and they've come back because they just see, actually, doing things by the old ways, we have to change. We have to move because as we're aging, as we're all... Not just age in the aging sector, but as we're all part of society working with people who require some care and support, more and more we're accessing digital tools in our everyday life. We're dependent on our phones, et cetera. Like that.

Why shouldn't the care situation, the home care, care homes, shared lives, all these, why shouldn't... And in retirement living. They should be digitally engaged too. So, it's a continuation. Rather than when you come into a care situation, rather than cutting off your previous life, it actually should be a continuation in some way of your way of living, and that will become more and more important in the next 10, 20 years. So many people now are needing care when they're digitally engaged themselves, so they want to have that at their fingertips as well.

Daniel Casson:

And also, part of the digital journey is people designing their own care as much as possible because one of my dictums is that we are all interdependent to different levels. No one person is an island. We're all interdependent in that that independence can rise and fall as you reach a situation of deterioration. And what digital tools can do is they can help you fill that independence gap. They can help you be more independent when you're sometimes losing some of that. For example, one of the organizations I work with works on the activities of daily living, and I don't know, Liam, if we can mention organizations here but-

Liam Palmer:

You can. Yeah, it's fine. [crosstalk 00:14:53]

Daniel Casson:

There's one called ADL Smartcare which actually looks at the activities of daily living, because it's all about how we look at what a person can do, not what they can't do.

Liam Palmer:

Got it. Yeah.

Daniel Casson:

So, when you can build a model around their activities of daily living, you can actually try and... I'm not sure whether the word is rehabilitate or re-able people to live as independently as they can with support. So I'm really interested in this, and that leads to we can talk about how machine learning and artificial intelligence can be used as well. I don't want to go too far, but if you're learning patterns of people, then you can actually use it to predict-

Liam Palmer:

Got it. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Daniel Casson:

... potential deterioration and help people avert it. You're really pushing my buttons on what drives me to be involved in digital tech. That's good. That is brilliant.

Liam Palmer:

Good. So, I mean, was there a pivotal moment where you just thought I want to fill the gaps in the sector or there's an opportunity for some interesting work or was there a pivotal moment? How did you go from I want to be employed, I want to make a difference in this organization, very well regarded organization, to right, I'm going to be a facilitator and enabler? I'm fascinated to hear.

Daniel Casson:

Good question. There's no one pivotal moment. There is a leap of faith moment. There is a leap of faith where you say, "Actually, I'm not certain how this is going to go. I've got a few places to go." I mean, yes, I was employed in Jewish Care for 12 years and then went independent. One day I was employed, the next day I was independent trying to make my own way. And the freedom and the ability to intellectually reach into other areas was really liberating. Scary and liberating too. What's interesting is I was freelance for a year before the pandemic hit, and actually working in a pandemic way, working in the way we've had to over communication online with online tools, has opened the door to so many people, because people are more open to actually meeting online. It's quite an interesting psychological discussion.

Liam Palmer:

Absolutely. Yeah. Of course.

Daniel Casson:

Yeah, to get into people's living rooms and see. It's really opened up. So, one of the things in the pandemic which has been really interesting, in some way the way we communicate has suffered because we don't have the one-to-one touch. We don't have the tactile touch. We can't put our arms around people. We can't hug. We can't cajole. We can't...

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. The body language is not quite there in the same way.

Daniel Casson:

I mean, classic is I'm looking at you on screen now, Liam. I have no idea how tall you are. You see all these people sitting down. You could be 6'7". I don't know. You miss details about people. You miss the nuances. But one thing it has done, and it's done this on lots of levels. I've talked to care homes where they now reach into the community a lot more because they now rely on their Facebook. They now rely on Zoom, and they bring community into the home a lot more than they used to. They communicate with families a lot more than they used to in some way, although the visiting and the not visiting has really affected people, and that is a definite downside. But the way more people involved online has really opened the door, and working independently as I do, it's opened the door to connecting with so many people. It's been a fantastic tool that you're on a webinar with 200 people talking or a round table with 10 people. And so, that making the connections is a lot more vibrant in social care now.

Daniel Casson:

And also, the profile of social care over the past 18 months since March 2020 has risen so much that people want to... I find a lot of my time now is spent explaining to people who are versed in healthcare and health technology how different social care is. So, that bridging that gap. And we can talk later about the role of NHSX in this, which has been very interesting [crosstalk 00:19:12] I think.

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I mean I suppose an analogy, or I think it's an analogy anyway, but with a few other hats I have on, I talk about the social care moving to digital and emerging technologies. I liken it to the car center. I went to the Jaguar museum on the side of Solihull and they've got all these cars going back a hundred years and they've got the histories, and it's kind of interesting, but what was fascinating was how in Birmingham and various places going back a hundred years, whatever it was, every other garage was a car maker. So, everyone was doing it, and then they've got these kind of graphics which show... And then it kind of went to right, we've now got 150 suppliers, and then it goes down and down and down and down and down.

Liam Palmer:

So, I see that as kind of an evolution of a sector, and so I kind of liken that to social care, that there's emerging technologies that have different names for the same thing and sometimes you get several technologies bundled into one. It really is evolving at quite a rate, but it's different from... And this is just my own view. It's different from mature established sectors, because people aren't looking often for a specific technology and they're not necessarily looking for a specific brand. Usually they know things are going on, there's technology out there, but it's not yet developed enough that people say, "Right, I want a Ford," or, "I want a Jag. I want this brand and then I want this technology." So, it's evolving a lot. So, I thought it'd be interesting to perhaps talk about the different strands of your work and explain why it's significant, because they're all part of this jigsaw of an evolving market. Do you know what I mean? Your NHSX hat on versus your [crosstalk 00:21:07] hat on. They're kind of different angles to the problem and to the solution in some ways, aren't they?

Daniel Casson:

You have to see how Liam is now explaining the different angles to me on the screen. It's really interesting.

Liam Palmer:

It's all lost on audio, isn't it?

Daniel Casson:

You're right. You're right. It's actually very good for me to think about because as I've developed my own consultancy I think, "Okay, well, what do I do? Where's my expertise coming in?" I talked before about it's actually filling that gap of explanation between health and social care people. I love bringing people together. That's one of the things I really love doing, and I see this as a... I did some work as a partnership broker and it's bringing people together with meaningful relationships is really amazing. I see, for example... I'm really impressed by what they've done in Gateshead, for example, where they've brought Gateshead Carers communities together where you've got local authorities and health working with the voluntary sector organizations. I love bringing people together. If we can do that with technology, that's what I want.

And you made an analogy with the car industry. You're right. In social care, especially a year and a half ago in digital technology, there weren't the standards, so if you were buying new tech, you had to trust in a way, trust the supplier. Trust the supplier to give you the right... Be responsible in the details they were giving you. As we've come over the past year and a half, there's been such a move to create standards, and you've got to commend the Professional Record Standards Body on this. The lack of standards has meant there's a such a wide market of tech suppliers that there needed to be standards in place, and those are starting to be in place. They tried it. Some of the care software suppliers tried it with the Care Software Providers Association. CSPA-

Liam Palmer:

Oh yeah. CSPA. Yeah, that's right.

Daniel Casson:

... which has tried to institute this, and the work has really been pushed on by what NHSX is doing about creating standards. So, there's now for example the dynamic purchasing system put in place for digital care records. So there are approved suppliers now which pass certain standards so the care organizations can actually review which providers meet certain standards.

So, we're starting to this journey where you have an independent view of technology suppliers. I'm really impressed with the work of NHSX involving care providers, care homes, home care. People providing the services in, "Okay, what's the standard? What do you want? What do you need?" And they've just actually produced something brilliant which people should look at called a DTAC, the Digital Technical Assessment Capabilities, and it's something which actually sets out what you should be looking for in a digital technology. So, if you are reviewing technology or things that introduce technology, it's a whole guideline of the questions you should be asking. What are the systems? What's the interoperability? What's the support you'll get? Things like that, that you need to ask.

Daniel Casson:

I've veered away a bit from what you say, Liam, what you asked, but I refer to another analogy. You gave the car analogy. I refer to another analogy, which Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England uses, which is if you are on a journey, plane journey, an airplane journey, you will be traveling over various air spaces, but you won't realize all the bureaucracy in the background. You will just go from London to Singapore, for example, over 14 hours, but you won't know all that's going on in the background. What we want for a person's health and wellbeing journey is they don't need to see the background workings. They just have a system which is seamless for them. They have care interventions if they need it, but really they're on a journey where their health and wellbeing is the central focus of what's... They don't care which organization is doing it, in a way.

Liam Palmer:

Of course. Yeah. Agreed. Agreed.

Daniel Casson:

Focused around the person, focused around you, and that relies on the data that you will give and share as well. So that's what I'm aiming for, is that we have this seamless health and wellbeing system which actually should prevent deterioration, prevent acute episodes as much as possible, and therefore we can focus on the health and wellbeing of people living healthy and meaningful lives. We developed something in Jewish Care when I was there called whole focus on meaningful lives, and my journey into tech has been all about how to help people live meaningful lives with the outcomes that they can design.

Liam Palmer:

So, obviously you're sort of straddling, like we said, different parts of the sector, so how would you sort of... How would you describe your mission? Is it to get social care on tech or how are you sort of seeing it in your head?

Daniel Casson:

My mission is innovation for an as seamless as possible journey for the person. That's my vision. Well, that's my mission.

Liam Palmer:

Yeah, okay.

Daniel Casson:

The vision has to be focused around digital, but it also has to be focused on enabling personal relationships, because that's the center of what we're doing. So, if we can free people up... We talk about something very key. One of the benefits of digital technology has to be the gift of time, the gift of time to care. If what we're doing by innovating is giving carers, whether they be informal carers, whether they be family carers, whether they be staff teams in care homes, home carers, anyone who's caring or in the caring network should have more time to be with the person to give that quality of care. If we can free... If you look at the two main qualities of digital technology, they should be giving the gift of time to the person caring and the person who requires care and support, and they should also be helping carers work more efficiently for people.

Liam Palmer:

Got it. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Using technology to facilitate better care.

Daniel Casson:

Yes. That's exactly where it's at.

Liam Palmer:

Perhaps we could sort of, I suppose, sort of go down to follow these next three to kind of encapsulate and draw together some of the core themes you mentioned. So I'm thinking of two or three pieces here, advice to care providers who want to embrace tech, advice to tech companies who want to learn how to navigate the social care market, and maybe some reflections on that LaingBuisson conference you've had or current messages you're talking about. Just kind of draw out some of that value. Did that work for you?

Daniel Casson:

Yeah, it did. I organized earlier this year the Digital Social Care Tech Conference at LaingBuisson. That was a brilliant vehicle. And it's the first time I've organized a conference like that.

Liam Palmer:

Oh, really?

Daniel Casson:

It was a brilliant vehicle for trying to push forward responsible development of tech for people and explaining it to people, having people on the ground who are actually working with tech explain what this does. For me, that's making it simple. That's development. Work with LaingBuisson is developing into wider social care, how we set up a social care system. I'm very interested in this. This links in a bit to what we're seeing with the health bill, the white paper we recently saw about the integrated care systems, because what I'm keen for is that integrated care systems have a governance system in place, which involves social care providers as much as possible.

And I believe that tech and data is the way to do this, because if we have the data flowing through the system and we have a parity of esteem among health and social care providers, then we can start to actually see where the resources, where the budget should be spent for the better health of people. Sorry. Health and wellbeing of people. It's all about should it be a health service, whether it should be a health and wellbeing service, should it be a quality of life service. All these euphemisms and acronyms, whatever. But if we can have that at the core is not just prevention, but is wellbeing, quality of life. So, my goal is to do that with the data.

So, explaining the gaps between health and care to people, working with care providers, working with advisors in tech, and working... Sorry. Working with innovators in tech, and working then with the NHS bodies, with the Department of Health and Social Care, with NHS, a lot with NHS Digital and NHSX, for example, on how they can provide the bedrock. They can provide the focus around which care parity of esteem between care and health situations can happen.

Liam Palmer:

Brilliant. Okay. Okay. I think I understand you quite a lot.

Daniel Casson:

It maybe needs more explaining. Maybe. I don't know.

Liam Palmer:

No, no, no. I think I understand you a lot better, a lot better than I did before we spoke and listening to you. So yeah, you're helping the sector with its composite parts to get together around digital and to embrace that more particular, specific ends and goals. And it's a start of getting all other levels of digital, but let's start with care monitoring and let's educate and draw the pieces together. So, you're performing a kind of strategic stakeholder kind of engagement and pulling those pieces together.

Daniel Casson:

I can't underestimate at this point, Liam, the work I'm doing with Digital Social Care on data and cyber security. Again, I've used the word bedrock before, but one of the bases that need to be put in place is a realization of the need for data security and cyber security awareness. There's a big push at the moment for the data security and protection toolkits, for all social care providers to sign up to it, because it is the gateway into so much. If you can publish the data security and protection toolkit, that allows you then to access NHS mail. It allows you to do proxy access for medication. It will open up training avenues. It will open up so much. So, I would really encourage anyone in social care who's not published the data security protection toolkit to actually go and have a look at the Digital Social Care website, because it's putting in place things on an organizational level that means your data is secure, but it also means training for individuals, training for people using the care.

There was recently a hack in Ireland on the health service, which has caused so many problems. There was a hack where I live in Hackney in London, which just caused so many problems. And it's mainly down to one person opening a wrong link on an email or responding to an email, so we have to have data security at the highest level for an organization and the training in place for people, because that again, that is one of the pillars on which we can build a digital first social care system.

Liam Palmer:

Got it. Got it. Got it. Okay. Perfect. All right. So, perhaps now let's just focus a moment on the sort of care provider community that are say, for example, hesitant on tech or perhaps not knowing what the next steps are. For those care providers, what advice would you give them?

Daniel Casson:

I'd say that my first advice is talk to people. When I say talk to people, talk to people that you're caring for, their families. Talk to, it depends what position you're in, but your board or your management team about how do they think about whether a service needs to be more tech-enabled. What's happening in the local... Look at what's happening in the local area. Look at what's happening with CCG. Just start talking around it because it's not saying it's definitely better, but there is a way forward that you can actually improve. Because I say any innovation that you look for has to create value.

Daniel Casson:

So, if you're thinking about how do you create value for people, how do you create value for your organization, well, if you want to create value for people, you've got to make sure that anything you're doing builds in quality for the person, quality of care, and you can do that with greater digital capacity. It then has to build in greater efficiency for you. So, as an organization to work more efficiently, if you can, but give time for people to care. So, what I'd say is first port... I would say the first port of call is have a look at the Digital Social Care website.

Liam Palmer:

Right. Okay. There we go.

Daniel Casson:

Really brilliant way of actually accessing some success stories. There's some great success stories on there of how people have changed what they do, created a better service for people by just dipping a toe in the water a bit with digital technology. Listen, we're all used to it. We're getting used to it. There is no care situation in the UK at the moment that doesn't access online communications somewhere, be it mental health groups which are now organized online, supporting online, be it learning disability groups which are together. There's a brilliant learning disability group I work with called Peak 15. I haven't done work with them. I've been in touch with them. Peak 15, which is actually looking at the... They have something called the big life adventure, which means that people with learning disabilities should be able to have the normal experiences in life. Go to cinema, go for walks, potentially get married. There's a whole digital enablement of people to do that, really using tech to free people up, to liberate people.

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic. I absolutely love it. That is absolutely spot on. Very, very specific. Very helpful. And so, let's move to it could be tech startups or companies where they've got a good product but they don't know how to grow. What advice would you give those techs trying to get into social care? What advice would you give them?

Daniel Casson:

Well, first of all, do you start small or do you start big? I think you start small. You work with providers to actually see what they want, what would make a difference to their service. We've seen this in environmental monitoring, for example. There's a great example of this about seeing what are the products that are on the market and seeing whether you can enhance them or work with them. There was a great collaboration between the digital care provider KareInn and Ally Labs. This was a Friends of the Elderly project they worked on which was about how environmental monitoring can build into care planning as well. And you're starting to look at the interoperable systems.

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So for tech providers, I'd say have a look at the market. See what's there. What are you going to enhance? What's going to be your... It's over quoted, but your unique selling points about how you're going to... Because again, and for tech providers, again, go to DTAC, this Digital Technical Assessment Capabilities framework that NHSX have put in, because these are the minimum requirement entries that you will have to convince care providers that they can trust you. So, it's all about your data security, about where you're storing data. They have to realize that this is a maturing sector, so there will be fallout here and they have to.... The boards I advise on digital tech, it's all about just feeling your way in there. I work with a company called GDS Digital doing some great stuff in Wales about joining up care around the person.

Liam Palmer:

Brilliant.

Daniel Casson:

If you focus around get your service user, your UX, your client service user research done, then you've got to focus it. From them will stem... From people who require care and support will stem solutions, not from people like me. Not from people who even work in care. It comes from people with lived experience. So, we need to get people with lived experience contributing more and more in this.

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. Got it. Yeah. You talked about that earlier, didn't you, this sense of moving from residents to people. Why is that significant? I mean, it's self-evident to me as a resident manager, but for some who might not get it, why do you talk about that? What's significant about that?

Daniel Casson:

I mean, the context of what we discussed earlier, Liam, was I talked to so many health professionals and getting them to come away from referring to the patient has been a real journey. If you can get health professionals talking about the person, and they don't like it often because then you have to start using adjectives like the person requiring care, but if we start talking about the person. I don't even go for citizen. I go for the person, because if we can build the care around them, be it healthcare, be it social care, personal care, care and support, then that's the way forward. So, I would say if we can remember that... Anyone in social care, anyone working in social care, if you're with health professionals who start talking about the best thing for the patient, try and guide them onto talking about the person and their quality of life rather than the patient and what intervention that patient needs.

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a brilliant point. I mean, so draws on some of the great work with pioneers trying to move the whole social care system on that. I mean, that gentleman, the American doctor, Atul Gawande, who wrote that book Being Mortal, it's all about that, isn't it? Moving away from the sort of medicalization to actually seeing the person, seeing the need, and oh, guess what? Their needs are the same as yours.

Daniel Casson:

Yeah.

Liam Palmer:

If you can remember that it all becomes a lot easier, doesn't it? Why do they want to go outside? Because it's nice. Because you like to go outside. It's summer. They want to go outside because it's nice to be outside. It's easy.

Daniel Casson:

And there's a whole issue now around what housing we build for people who require care and support, what they need. Should we adapt the current housing stock? Should we actually be building for people with care and support needs? There's a whole housing and public health policy which we need to get into as well, because we need to build whole systems rather than parts of the system. And I believe technology can actually play its role in smart homes, for example, enabling people and empowering people to live as independently as they can. And reinforce the point none of us is independent, but with technology you can reinforce people's ability to live as independently as possible.

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. Got it. Got it. And as I said at the beginning, I mean, we don't directly promote anybody or any brand here, just to keep it a sort of objective neutral place. I think though in this instance, because the move to digital is happening anyway through lots of different parties... And it's so complex and I can imagine some people going, "Oh God, it's technical. Leave me alone," sort of thing. So, I think perhaps would you like to explain what you actually do? So, if people out there who are care providers or whatever, it's not a sales pitch, but what do you help with? What can Daniel Casson help with for social care?

Daniel Casson:

It's actually demystifying it. I don't like the phrase 'it's not rocket science'. It's demystifying. It comes down to people and you designing what you want. So, a person can sit down and say, okay, take it from basics. If I want to give the best care I can to someone I'm supporting, let's talk to them, see how it naturally fits in with them. It's demystifying it. This is just a natural journey. So if you're working with me, what I will do is I will draw out what you want from service. How do you see your division for your service? Let's try and... I've talked to people that say, "I want to be able to give care and support wherever I am and wherever the person is, wherever the person who requires care and support is." So okay, we want a system that's accessible anywhere that either you as a carer or the person you're working for can access all the time. Okay. Let's design the system around that.

So, what I do is I go into organizations and say, "Set up that framework. Set up your framework. So, don't jump in straight away. Set up the framework you want and we'll build up gradually." One of the organizations I'm working with is doing this brilliantly. We're starting and we're putting in digital care records and then we're looking at the environmental systems that can fit in with that. We look at email systems that fit in with that. So be gradual. It's about me saying, "Okay, let's look at what you want. What are your priorities? Design your wishlist."

So, one of the things I do is okay, design your wishlist. Now let's prioritize that wishlist. Now let's look at how we prioritize. Does it create value? I talked about the three ways of creating value. Does it create value for the person? Does it create value for the organization? Does it create value for the health and care system? Let's look at your wish list and see which one of those we can do, which one of those fulfills which criteria, and then let's look at what tools you can get in. Let's look at your budget. Let's phase it in, how this is going to create value for you. So, I take people back and say, "Look at your wishlist. It's a great start for this."

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. Yeah. Think about what we want before we go and source a system. Yeah.

Daniel Casson:

One of the great positions we're in now is we've had to because of COVID put new systems in place. We've had to.

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. Agreed.

Daniel Casson:

So in a way, we've jumped a step. So, what I'm saying to people is don't step back, but try and have some time to review how you can use all this new capacity that you've got.

Liam Palmer:

Yeah. Got it.

Daniel Casson:

I mean, it's classic consultancy. If I go to an organization, I don't want to be there for long. I want to put in the bedrock for them to take it on. That's what I want to do. I mean, classic management consultant will try and get themselves intertwined into an organization so they become reliant. I want to actually be in there, put in some basic goals and ways of working, and then maybe check in every so often. That's the way I like to work with people.

Liam Palmer:

That makes perfect sense. So, how can people find you, Daniel? Have you got a website?

Daniel Casson:

Funny, I haven't got my website because I've been so busy. I haven't got a website. The best way to get in touch with me is through my LinkedIn.

Liam Palmer:

LinkedIn.

Daniel Casson:

Daniel Casson on my LinkedIn is the best way to get in touch with me. And then when I have some downtime, then I'm going to be able to actually do my website. And that's remiss of me. It's very remiss of me, but the work's been flowing and I just... I want to really put down my story when I feel ready to tell my story.

Liam Palmer:

You've got to. Yeah, yeah. There's a time for it, isn't there?

Daniel Casson:

Yeah, definitely.

Liam Palmer:

Perfect. Okay. Well, we'll just draw this to a close. Is there any final thoughts or final observations you'd like to share before we close, Daniel?

Daniel Casson:

I think we're okay. Everyone says there's a call in social care for the 1948 moment, actually for this to be where we really take social care forward. What I would say is it is really time to engage. I think NHSX is doing some amazing work on bringing the social care sector into the digital age. We just need to keep going forward. That's all I'd say. There's no great silver bullet, but my parting thing is just don't be afraid to try things.

Liam Palmer:

Perfect. Perfect. All right. We'll close there. Thanks for your hard work in bringing digital to social care.

Liam Palmer:

So there you have it, a fascinating conversation with Daniel Casson. It was a real treat for me. I wonder what stood out for you? What stood out for me was Daniel's obvious passion for really seeing the person in the provision of care. He talked about how he'd champion the use of specific language, talking about the person rather than the patient or the resident, and it's a subtle distinction, but for those of us who do run care services, it's actually quite profound and much needed. I also noted how Daniel transferred his passion from helping the vulnerable in society in other countries to actually seeing the same need from a different angle in his own community in serving older people in his local community. So, I thought that was really interesting how he had that moment to see the commonality between the two and make that transition, as it were.

I was also interested about how Daniel saw the potential that care monitoring has to improve care delivery. I love the anecdote he gave about care staff who worked in one of his homes for Jewish Care where there was electronic care planning and then went off to another home that had paper-based planning, and then they returned. Oddly enough, that makes complete sense to me, because actually if the care planning system is really good, it means that the carer can do a better job, they can be better informed, and there's that sense of wellbeing.

And also safety and risks, all of those things are better managed with a well-designed care monitoring system to empower the carers to do a good job. So, that actually does make sense to me as well.

I mean, I think finally, what I noticed was Daniel's obvious ability as a strategist, as a facilitator bringing people together to help move the sector on in regards to the take on digital. It's really an unusual skill set, so again, many thanks to Daniel Casson.

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About the author

  • Liam Palmer
    Registered Home Manager

Liam Palmer is the author of 3 books on raising quality standards in care homes through developing leadership skills. In Oct 2020, he published a guide to the Home Manager role called "So You Want To Be A Care Home Manager?". Liam has been fortunate to work as a Senior Manager across many healthcare brands including a private hospital, a retirement village and medium to large Care Homes in the private sector and 3rd sector. He hosts a podcast "Care Quality - meet the leaders and innovators”.

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  • Liam Palmer
    Registered Home Manager

About the author

  • Liam Palmer
    Registered Home Manager

Liam Palmer is the author of 3 books on raising quality standards in care homes through developing leadership skills. In Oct 2020, he published a guide to the Home Manager role called "So You Want To Be A Care Home Manager?". Liam has been fortunate to work as a Senior Manager across many healthcare brands including a private hospital, a retirement village and medium to large Care Homes in the private sector and 3rd sector. He hosts a podcast "Care Quality - meet the leaders and innovators”.

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