Member spotlight: An interview with Katie Thorn

Katie Thorn is the Digital Engagement Manager at the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA), an affiliate of PRSB member the Care Provider Alliance (CPA). Katie is the project lead for Digital Social Care and this month, she spoke on the importance of information standards in social care at PRSB and INTEROPen’s joint panel at the HETT Show (28-29 September). We spoke to Katie about her work and the importance of information standards for social care and integration

Tell us about yourself, your professional background and your work with the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA)?

I’m the digital engagement manager at the Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA). The RNHA is the only national association which exclusively represents the interests of small and medium sized care homes with nursing. As part of my role, I also project manage Digital Social Care, a partnership project run by the Care Provider Alliance[1] and funded by NHS Digital and NHSX. Run by care providers, for care providers we provide free support, advice, and guidance to adult social care providers across England on technology and data sharing.

How can our organisations – PRSB, RNHA and the Care Provider Alliance – make a real difference to people’s experience of care and treatment?

People receive care and treatment in many different settings throughout their lives and, unfortunately, we know that health and care professionals can’t always access the information they need to provide the best care outcomes for people. Particularly as I work in social care provision, systems are still not particularly joined up with the NHS and it can be difficult to share and receive information with our colleagues in health. By working together, I think that the Care Provider Alliance and PRSB can ensure that the right information is recorded correctly and can be accessed easily in social care as well as in the NHS.

Health and Social Care integration is increasingly important in the national agenda and by working together we can make sure that care workers – in residential and domiciliary care – have a voice in developing standards for the sector.

What made you interested in clinical informatics and data standards?

My interest is really driven by my frustration that information is not available to the appropriate care give at the right time on different care pathways. If we are to improve outcomes for people in a meaningful way, I think it’s vital that the system is more joined up! Data standards can help with this goal.  

Which areas of PRSB’s work are you most interested in and why?

Working in social care, I’m of course going to say the social care interoperability standards which the PRSB recently published. I think the “About Me” standard is probably the work which I found most meaningful – hearing the consultation responses from people receiving care and support and their families and carers about the difference that this could make in their lives was incredibly moving.

What should the future priorities for information standards in social care be? What are the key issues that need to be addressed?

From a care provider point of view, there are very few standards which are currently used in the sector so this could be a very long answer! In the short term, I think we should prioritise extending the care home view of the shared care record standard to also consider the wider social care sector, including home care and learning disabilities, supported living and mental health provision – social care is a much wider than just care homes.

[1] The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) brings together the ten main national associations which represent independent and voluntary adult social care providers in England.

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