If you want to find out more about any of our digital social care projects  email: nclicb.digitaladultsocialcare@nhs.net

Digital transformation can enhance the delivery of person-centred care while improving secure communications and reducing time spent on administrative tasks. Ranging from the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT), to NHSmail, to Digital Social Care Records (DSCR), there are digital solutions designed to meet the complex and diverse needs of social care settings, whether you are interested in transforming the way you provide care or looking to introduce new efficiencies while meeting regulatory standards.

Support is available to help your care setting identify digital opportunities, implement new technologies, and respond to Care Quality Commission requirements. North Central London’s Digital Social Care Programme is assisting care providers with completing DSPT, transitioning to NHSmail, and implementing DSCR, remote monitoring, and acoustic monitoring technologies. With digital innovation, we can secure care and proprietary information, support individuals’ independence, enhance information sharing between health and social care, promote transparency and accountability, and ultimately improve the quality of care provided across North London.

If you want to find out more about any of the digital social care projects described below, please email nclicb.digitaladultsocialcare@nhs.net

> Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT)

> Digital Social Care Records (DSCR)

> NHSmail

> Remote Monitoring

> Proxy Access

> Acoustic Monitoring

Data Security and Protection Toolkit

The Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) is an annual online self-assessment for health and care organisations to measure data security performance. It outlines what steps you need to take to keep people’s information safe and to protect your business from the risk of a data breach or cyberattack, while also providing organisations a means of reporting security incidents and data breaches. It covers both paper and digital care records.

When you complete the toolkit, you can publish the standard you have reached and information about how you are improving your policies and practice. Achieving ‘Standards Met’ on your DSPT assessment is required to access projects and initiatives that allow care services to directly access NHS patient information systems, such as GP records and shared care records. DSPT is obligatory for utilising technologies such as NHSmail and DSCR.

Benefits of DSPT

Central and local government bodies, commissioners, the Care Quality Commission, and the National Data Guardian recognise the DSPT as the official tool to evaluate your compliance with legal requirements, data security standards and IT good practice.

It has been developed by the NHS and updated annually in consultation with care providers to ensure it is social-care friendly and relevant to the data management and security needs of the sector.

By using the toolkit on an annual basis and reaching a Standards Met on your assessment you will be able to:

  • Reassure people who use services, their families, and your staff that you are managing their information safely and securely.
  • Answer the Care Quality Commission’s Key Line of Enquiry questions about how you manage data securely (see KLOE W.2.8)
  • Demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements, including Data Protection Legislation and the Data Security Standards
  • Access key services such as NHSmail and shared care records
  • Implement digital social care technologies such as DSCR

Achieving an Approaching Standards on your self-assessment is a stepping-stone level towards Standards Met that will guide you through producing an improvement plan to demonstrating how you are working towards meeting the DSPT standards.

Who needs to complete the DSPT

There is a legal requirement to complete the DSPT every year if you have services funded by the NHS, such as continuing healthcare.

All adult social care services in England, including residential and nursing homes, supported living, homecare, extra care, share lives, and day services are strongly recommended to complete the DSPT. It is increasingly what local authorities, ICBs, and the Care Quality Commission will expect to see.

You don’t need to register for or have completed the DSPT to have video appointments with NHS services, but it is strongly recommended.

Support and Guidance for the DSPT

Local support is available to assist your care setting with understanding the requirements to complete the DSPT and conducting the assessment. For more information or to request this support, please contact nclicb.digitaladultsocialcare@nhs.net.

Better Security, Better Care is a national and local support programme to help care providers to improve their data and cybersecurity by completing the DSPT. It includes a range of useful resources to help your setting use the toolkit, as well as practical support from a network of local support partners across England, national support for large care providers, and a dedicated helpline.

Access the following further resources:

If you have questions on completing DSPT you can also call the Digital Social Care helpline at 0208 133 3430 (9am and 5pm Monday to Friday) or email help@digitalsocialcare.co.uk.

Digital Social Care Records

Digital Social Care Records (DSCR) transform the way care information is recorded and shared within social care settings by replacing traditional paper records to enable the real-time, person-centred digital recording of care information and services received by an individual.

NHSE has developed an assured marketplace of DSCR suppliers that offer systems with a core set of capabilities to meet the diverse needs of social care providers across the sector. The Assured Supplier List currently includes 14 suppliers whose DSCR solutions have passed a basic financial and security check, comply with national standards, are consistent with CQC regulations on good governance, and offer an array of minimum task and care planning, data security, and record sharing features.

To learn more about the NCL DSCR project, you can also view our DSCR Informational Leaflet or our DSCR One-Pager to find further information about DSCR solutions and what care providers will need to do to participate in the project.

Benefits of DSCR

DSCR is designed to foster data sharing, ensuring that the right people have access to the information they need to deliver care effectively. By implementing DSCR, care providers can not only enhance the care and services they provide but will also play a vital role in joining up social care with the NHS. The adoption of real time information recording and sharing through DSCR helps providers to be more aware of when people’s needs change so they can respond to them more quickly, improving the safety and quality of care while also reducing the time spent on administrative duties. Further benefits include:

  • Availability of all key care information for residents, accessible at the point of care
  • Alignment with CQC best practices and emerging digitisation standards in the single assessment framework
  • Easier and more efficient processes for providing information to commissioners and regulators
  • Minimisation of risks such as medication errors, dehydration, or missing visits
  • Support for other important health and care functions such as service management, planning, and research
  • For more details on the benefits of DSCR; you can read the full details provided by the CQC. Just follow this: The benefits of a good digital records system - Care Quality Commission (cqc.org.uk)

The Video created by the CQC also covers the importance and benefits of DSCR:


Support to Implement DSCR

When purchasing a DSCR from the Assured Supplier List, care providers are eligible to receive support funding and implementing their chosen solution, including:

  • Funding to cover licensing and implementation costs, as well as up to one year of running costs.
  • Guidance through the process to make the transition as seamless as possible
  • Hands-on support and bespoke training to integrate DSCR
  • Integrated support as needed to meet DSPT standards (required for implementing DSCR), accessing NHS mail, and implementing other care technologies such as remote monitoring and acoustic monitoring

To get in touch about DSCR funding and support, please email us at nclicb.digitaladultsocialcare@nhs.net


NHSmail is a free and secure email system which is available to all Care Quality Commission registered providers in England who have achieved Approaching Standards on the Data Security and Protection Toolkit. As the national service for sharing patient identifiable and sensitive information and the national secure collaboration platform for health and social care, accessing NHSmail can transform the way your setting communicates, both within your organisation and outside it.

Benefits of NHSmail

NHSmail is a centrally funded, managed and secure email service designed to allow confidential information about people we care for to be shared safely. It does everything you would expect from a modern business email system, while also having benefits specific to the health and social care sector:

  • Allows easier and faster communications with the GP
  • Simplifies the processes for ordering tests
  • Enhances the prescription ordering process
  • Provides a reliable discharge summary process
  • Reduces time spent on administrative tasks
  • Increases collaboration over hospital admissions and appointments
  • Allows access to the NHS directory

Access to NHSmail

Local support is available to assist your care setting with accessing NHSmail. For more information or to request this support, please contact nclicb.digitaladultsocialcare@nhs.net.

There are three main routes to accessing NHSmail:

1. Self-Management (Top Down)

  • Suitable for large organisations, i.e. those that have their own IT function, and have the expertise and technological proficiency to carry out the local administrator role
  • Organisations manage the accounts themselves – starters, leavers, password resets etc.
  • Organisations can integrate NHSmail with their own IT and HR procedures
  • The default account allowance is up to 10 user accounts and 1 shared mailbox per site
  • Register using the self-management application form. This is completed at HQ level, sites are later added as ‘organisation units’

2. National Administration Service (NAS) Portal (Decentralised)

  • The main route for small providers, administrative support is provided centrally
  • Register via the online self-service portal – usually completed by a care site.
  • Nationally administrated, no administrators are required within the social care organisation.
  • Dedicated admin support managed via Accenture helpdesk – careadmin@nhs.net
  • Generally, the shared mailbox owner for each site manages joiners and leavers. Other responsibilities are detailed in the guide
  • Bulk upload facility is available, however there could be a long lead time if large numbers of accounts are required
  • May be complicated if the organisation structure is not reflected correctly in the ODS code HQ/site hierarchy (as often seems to be the case)
  • The default account allowance is up to 10 named user accounts and 1 shared mailbox per site
  • Naming convention for shared mailbox – postcodetown.carehomenameODScode@nhs.net (this is being revisited to look at other simpler naming solutions).
  • CQC Registered Services only

3. Third Party route (For Non CQC Registered Services)

  • Separate Application Route – Third Party Process and application form
  • Must be providing or supporting publicly funded health and social care.
  • The NHSmail team will evaluate eligibility
  • Default is up to 50 accounts per organisation

The most effective way to ensure that you have ongoing access to NHSmail is to reach and maintain at least Approaching Standards on your annual DSPT self-assessment.

If you have questions about your NHSMail access you can call the Digital Social Care helpline at 0208 133 3430 (Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm) or email help@digitalsocialcare.co.uk