Supporting care homes

100% Digital Leeds is working with care homes across the city to improve outcomes for residents through digital inclusion in response to the current and emerging needs of care home providers and their residents.  

Understanding the issue

The Healthwatch Leeds Care Homes report highlighted the current challenges residents in care homes across Leeds face: social deprivation; increased mental health; reduced physical activity and movement; reduced social activities; lack of communication with relatives. With 151 care homes providing a home to over 5,550 residents, of all ages and with varying needs and care plans, a range of solutions and interventions will be used to meet the range of health, social and wellbeing needs residents and care home providers face.

Alongside these challenges initial insights gathered through conversations with stakeholders and care homes reflect those set out in the NHSX Adult Social Care Technology and Digital Skills Review 2021. There is a need to address the current offer of connectivity and equipment within care homes and the confidence and skills of staff working in care homes to utilise digital technology and capabilities to best support the people they work with:

  • Overall, 60% of staff across care homes report low levels of confidence with using digital technology
  • Staff report a lack of awareness about the available digital technology and its potential uses to support the people they care for
  • Staff report a lack of digital skills or confidence among people with care and support needs or their carers
  • A noted reluctance among people with care and support needs or their carers to use technology and not unaware of the benefits of digital and the full functionality of devices such as Alexa’s and tablets
  •  Care homes expressed a lack of infrastructure such as broadband and wifi. Some only have wifi available in staff offices rather than for use with residents, especially across small care home providers
  • Where digital has been used it was noted that it has been used in a reactive way rather than proactive, used to support people with care needs when their condition progresses or when they are isolated.

There are many fantastic examples of how digital technology is currently being used in care homes across Leeds: to support people to keep in touch with family and friends; to access and provide health and care services; utilising arts and culture activities; increase social interactions which has increased through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This work will harness best practice and address the challenges set out above to support care homes to embed digital inclusion within their service offer to reduce health inequalities and increase improved outcomes for their residents and workforce. 

Approach and intended outcomes

Based on the insights gathered we have developed a Theory of Change with the following intended outcomes:

  • Care home residents use digital technology to support their wellbeing and increase social connections
  • Care home staff across the city are enabled to support their residents with digital technology
  • Care homes embed digital inclusion within their existing activities and services
  • Care homes utilise digital solutions—NHS mail, DSPT, proxy ordering

This will include assessing the current connectivity and device offer within care homes and supporting care home staff to have the knowledge, skills, confidence, capacity and resource, to support the digital and health inclusion of the people they work with, in the way that best meets their needs. Utilising technology to enable residents to engage with digital in the most appropriate way for them. 

This will support people living in care homes to overcome barriers to digital inclusion in the way that works best for them, with the people they know and trust, in a way that makes them feel comfortable and safe. 

Co-designing interventions and working collaboratively with care homes and key stakeholders will ensure the approach is person-centred and based on the individual care home, provider, and resident’s needs. Initial insights show the current staffing pressures and emerging priorities and pressures on care homes and providers, this will be taken into consideration when developing this work understanding the additional challenges the care home sector face. 

Targeted digital inclusion activities will be developed with four cohorts across the 151 care homes in the city; these represent 32 establishments and 1,500 residents. These cohorts represent care homes supporting people living with learning disabilities, care homes supporting older people and people living with dementia, care homes supporting people living with mental health and care homes providing nursing care. We will target work with various care homes across these cohorts which reflect small providers, large providers, those with existing digital inclusion offers and those expressing the need for further digital inclusion support and resources. This will enable us to gain deeper insight into the various approaches needed to support the diverse community of care homes in Leeds and further support them to overcome digital inclusion barriers.

Partnerships and Stakeholders

Connecting with existing projects and teams to align and adopt a joined-up approach with shared priorities in the city

We are working closely with the LCC Care Quality Commission team which has enabled us to have a greater understanding of the current priorities and pressures within the care home sector. Digital Inclusion is now prioritised within their weekly communication bulletin which reaches all care homes within the city, we have regular attendance at the Care Homes network meetings which has increased engagement and developments.

“We are all aware that there is a clear need to promote digitisation widely across the social care sector. The benefits from digitisation of improved effectiveness and efficiency in providing care are well known and promoting digital ways of working has become a major part of the work of the Care Quality Team. The partnership we have developed with the 100% Digital Leeds team has proven very valuable and useful in supporting and promoting this work. Simply the number of individuals across care homes in Leeds who are now able to access our virtual events is an example of the impact of this support.

The reality is that the degree of digital literacy varies greatly across the care sector in Leeds and whilst some providers have a good level of digital literacy, others do not, and we need digital competence at all levels in care from care assistants to managers to support digitisation.

The offer of support and ongoing work with 100% Digital Leeds at a wide range of levels including the partnership work with Barclays Digital Eagles has been well received by staff across the care sector. The Care Quality Team have had positive feedback from a range of individuals that have found the support useful effective and easy to access. 

The use of digital has had great importance during Covid from supporting family links to undertaking virtual consultations. Care home activities for residents have been an area that has particularly benefitted from the 100% Digital Leeds support which is enabling them to access a range of digital and virtual activities and improving health and wellbeing outcomes.

Without the work of the 100% Digital Leeds team the staff in care homes would be less able to support residents in taking part in digital activities, staff would have lower confidence and skills and in some cases the care homes would not have had access to digital through devices.

This real, practical application of digital technology with the support of the 100% Digital Leeds team is helping to embed digital inclusion across the care sector in Leeds, with staff becoming more familiar and comfortable using digital technology which is a key step in the preparation for the move to even wider digitisation”

Richard Graham, Commissioning Programme Leader, LCC Care Quality Commission

Building partnerships, developing skills and confidence, and increasing resource and capacity

We are working with our existing digital inclusion networks in the city to encourage partnerships with third-sector organisations and care homes with shared offers and increasing resource and capacity. Utilising arts and culture as a way of engaging staff and residents to overcome digital inclusion barriers has proven successful and supports a holistic approach to address digital inclusion enabling residents to engage with digital in a meaningful way. Collaborating with Arts in Care Homes, Leeds Arts Health and Wellbeing Network and LCC Arts Development team to support hybrid digital offers for care homes.

This targeted digital inclusion work within care homes will link with our place-based approach to digital inclusion model in partnership with Local Care Partnerships to connect and engage care homes in localised areas with existing community assets and digital health hubs. Building on existing digital inclusion support in communities such as digital champions, digital device schemes and virtual activity offers, as well as working closely with Primary Care to increase digital health participation and reduce health inequalities. 

We have partnered with Barclays Digital Eagles to provide training and support sessions for care home staff to utilise digital technology, build confidence, reduce concerns around security and online safety and to raise awareness of the various ways digital can be used to link with personal motivations and life goals in an inclusive and accessible way for residents. To date, 12 care homes have undergone this training, with many more expressing an interest to participate.

We’re connected and working in partnership with Carers Leeds and Leeds Care Association to join up digital inclusion offers with care homes, building on existing work developed in partnership with organisations and 100% Digital Leeds.

Understanding gaps and opportunities, signposting, and sharing best practice

We’re building relationships with care home teams to understand the unique barriers and challenges to digital inclusion that they and their residents face and codeveloping interventions to meet their needs, identifying gaps and opportunities in utilising digital technology and building confidence and skills. Developing peer-support models to share best practice across care homes and providers and improving signposting to support and training. Supporting care homes to embed digital in an immersive way that allows residents to explore digital at their own pace in the right way for them, addressing additional needs and barriers.

Collaboration, learning and visibility

Regular communication with DSPT NE & Yorkshire (NHS England) to utilise current data and information regarding digital processes and policies across care homes in Leeds. Using Data collected by this team we have established that 100 of the 151 care homes in Leeds have completed the NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit. This means they have met the 10 standards required by the National Data Guardian, and in turn this will allow them to access shared health record systems and to use NHS Mail.

Analysing data showing current digital maturity across care home workforces, usage of NHS iPads and additional digital systems that care home staff are required to use.

Utilising digital inclusion support, training, and resources with Digital Social Care to support care home staff to build confidence and skills in using digital device and have greater awareness of the range of digital tools and resources to support, inspire and motivate residents to go online.

We are building on existing relationships with Digital Communities Wales and SCVO Digital Scotland.  100% Digital Leeds will collaborate nationally with this targeted digital inclusion work in care homes sharing resources and learning to strengthen interventions and approaches. This will include working with these two national digital inclusion programmes to collaborate on a webinar in summer 2022 to share best practice and highlight the benefits of working in partnership nationally.  

Current Activity

100% Digital Leeds:

  • Mapping of current care homes digital inclusion offer and existing assets, barriers, and support needs
  • Codeveloping with care homes and supporting with the development of their digital inclusion offer and with embedding digital inclusion throughout their service
  • Supporting teams to develop their digital skills and confidence
  • Supporting teams to be confident in promoting and championing digital
  • Identifying funding opportunities to increase resource and capacity and supporting care homes with applications
  • Linking care homes with partners signposting to opportunities, coordinating, and adopting a joined-up approach across the city

Developing skills and confidence of care home staff

  • Coordinating and developing Digital Inclusion training and support sessions in partnership with Barclays Digital Eagles
  •  Digital Inclusion awareness training sessions delivered with 100% Digital Leeds

Increasing connectivity

  • Care Homes in Leeds gifted smartphones with data for residents through 100% Digital Leeds partnership with Hubbub UK.
  • Identifying funding opportunities for care homes to increase the number of digital devices and equipment to support residents

Increasing capacity and resource

  • Supporting LCC Care Delivery Service in developing their digital inclusion offer, embedding digital inclusion across their service and within their service plan has resulted in evidence and resource to recruit a digital inclusion worker within the service to lead and coordinate digital inclusion throughout the care homes, recovery hubs and extra care sites. 

Increasing social opportunities and improved wellbeing of residents

  • Promoting existing social sessions within third-sector organisations and Arts and Culture opportunities to support care home residents to virtually access these – improving social connections and mental health

“Having the support of 100% Digital Leeds has been fantastic for our care homes.  Not only support but also encouragement and excitement to use more digital resources in creative ways, that benefit not only residents’ connections with the community and their families, but digital inclusion also for staff, with training, increasing their motivation and confidence with digital resources.  100% Digital Leeds team are always available, approachable, open to suggestions, pro-active, bringing new ideas and we look forward to continue working together developing our digital inclusion offer, which is having such a positive impact for our care homes”

Iria Cunha, Wellbeing Development Manager, Springfield Care Villages


This project will be evaluated throughout the delivery using various qualitative and quantitative evaluation measures including case studies, interviews with care home staff and residents, surveys to reflect the mapping of resources and data and information gathered locally and regionally to show impact and progress against the intended outcomes. 

We will work with care homes and stakeholders to share the impact and learning city-wide and nationally, adapting to the ever-changing challenges and pressures across the care sector.