Digital care is relieving the strain on social care and the NHS


Column by Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger, Cabinet Member of Adult Care

Photo of Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger

It’s been a little over a year since Suffolk County Council launched Cassius – now the most advanced digital care technology service in the country – and in that time we’ve changed the lives of 1,600 Suffolk residents with the installation of over 2,600 pieces of digital technology.

The types of technology installed include movement sensors, smart watches, wearables and falls prevention devices – all of which are supporting people in Suffolk to remain independent for longer and to live safely and well at home.

For example, movement sensors can show when you leave home and return, or if there hasn’t been movement for some time, letting your carer or loved ones know you’re safe. Smart watches allow you to easily call for help from home or while you’re out. Falls pendants will automatically raise an alarm and call for help if it detects that you’ve had a fall. The technology on offer can all be customised to support people with a range of health and care needs and address specific requirements.

And after one year in action, we now have some fascinating new data which highlights the benefits of a digital care technology service such as Cassius, and the huge results it creates for social care and the NHS.

Because digital technology can delay someone’s need to access additional care or move to supported accommodation before they’re ready, the data shows that Cassius has created estimated cost avoidance savings to social care of £4.2 million, as well as cashable savings of £420,000. These savings can then be put back into the system and used to improve social care services elsewhere.

Not only that, but we are pleased to see the added value to the wider healthcare system too.

Since last July, Cassius has helped to avoid 118 ambulance callouts at a time when pressure on the NHS is at an all-time high, and prevented hospital admissions saving 170 days, freeing up beds for those most in need.

 Image of Cassius logo

These are such encouraging outcomes for a service developed from scratch. Cassius has exceeded all our expectations and Suffolk’s social care practitioners are quickly becoming the most digitally advanced in the country. These figures are a testament to how you can transform services and continue to provide positive experiences and benefits to all.

But most important is the benefit the technology is having on people’s lives, which has been wonderful to see.

For example, Phil, who has Parkinson’s, had been in hospital for two months. The hospital team felt he needed to be in a care home due to his poor mobility; however, Phil really wanted to be at home with his wife. Phil was referred to Cassius and provided with digital care technology to keep him safe, including sensor mats, a falls button and video carephone should he need to raise the alarm if he required help. Phil now had the tools he needed to continue living his daily life independently, so he could be safely discharged into his own home – a fantastic outcome for him and his family.

Looking ahead to the future of the service, we are planning new features with the existing technology to support people better, as well as better ways to evaluate data and to understand when people need help or care.

We are also looking at greater health integration and plan to incorporate health monitoring and assessment tools such as blood pressure monitors, oximeters, scales and thermometers, combining health and care technology into one platform and continuing to relieve the strain on social care and the NHS.

We are so proud of what Cassius has achieved in its first year – but there is so much potential still to explore.