Artificial Intelligence has been widely reported as a once in a generation technology that will impact every part of our lives. The integration of AI into health and social care systems holds the promise of enhancing service user outcomes, improving operational efficiency and revolutionizing the way we deliver social care.

There has been a shift in the way that social care providers interact with the data they hold on those they care for. For years social care was built on data that was transcribed onto paper, often completed with hand written notes describing the individual and the care that was being delivered.

With the advent of Digital Social Care Record platforms social care was brought into the Digital Age. This was successfully catalysed by the Digital Social Care Record grants and mass education by the Department of Health and Social Care, Care Bodies, Local Authorities and care providers themselves. This has led to a booming CareTech industry with many technology providers servicing the nuances within the diverse social care sector. Many companies are now using multiple digital products to replace their traditional practices to drive efficiency in a backdrop of funding pressures and a workforce crisis. The transition from unstructured hand written paper documentation to more structured digital records has enabled providers to become more efficient through improved document retrieval, data analysis, auditing, finance, HR and operational functions. So, we are no longer sifting through paper in our filing cabinets but instead clicking through our digital filing cabinets.

With 1.5 million people working in adult social care in 2022 and with millions of hours of social care delivered across the UK we have the opportunity to harness the digital data we are collecting and use this as the launchpad for social care to be thrusted into the AI age.

AI presents us with a greater opportunity than those that have proceeded. At the heart of the AI revolution is Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP is a field of AI that focuses on the interaction between computers and human languages. It enables machines to understand, interpret and generate human language, bridging the gap between the complex nuances of communication and the binary world of computers. NLPs conduct sentiment analysis to understand and analyse language on a massive scale. With the vast data social care providers collect on those they care for we must ask the question, what can we do with this?

Large Language Models (LLMs) are able to analyse millions of data points in real time for a low marginal cost. LLMs can analyse historic care delivery, derive correlations, and feed this back to the care provider to deliver data led care. This analysis compounded on the inclusive nature of NLPs means that any one of your team can simply ask a question and receive analysis that would have taken hundreds of hours by a Data Scientist. These AI powered insights can fuel predictive and preventative care, a north star for many technology suppliers and care providers alike.

This paradigm shift is not a choice but an inevitability. In the same way regulators, providers, councils and the Government eventually accepted the enormous benefits of Digital Social Care Record platforms, AI will be no different. The opportunity to transition from filing cabinets to digital filing cabinets to having the ability to speak to your data using Natural Language is the next productivity leap the sector needs.


Charles Cross is Chief Operating Officer at Anglian Care and Ashley Care, based in Essex. In addition to this Charles has worked with a leading virtual reality start up to create VR training for the social care sector. This included collaborating with the University of Essex and Leeds Beckett University on the training material as well as the post training analysis. The study in partnership with Leeds Beckett University will form the basis of literature of the impact VR can have on the social care worksforce. Charles is the co-founder of emma AI, an artificial intelligence social care start up that’s mission is to help care teams across the country.