Could Amazon’s Alexa replace social workers?

Could Amazon’s Alexa replace social workers? In this article, we discuss how voice-enabled technology is disrupting the social care sector and easing the pressure on social workers and unpaid carers. 

Current landscape 

Unfortunately, the amalgamation of underfunding, staffing shortages and endless waiting lists has left 2.6 million people over 50 without access to care in the UK. 

As a result, we have seen an increased strain on unpaid carers – especially since the pandemic, to look after and support their loved ones. 

However, as a recent report from the ADASS pointed out, social care has “run out of road” to continue in this way. 

How can Alexa help service users? 

The opportunity to digitise care is constantly being explored by researchers and industry leaders. In recent years, there has been a particular interest in the potential of voice-controlled technology. 

A trial, which studied the affordances of Amazon Echo in care settings, found that the virtual assistant gave service users greater autonomy over their day-to-day and reduced reliance on carers. 

From turning on lamps with voice control to enabling remote check-ins with social workers, the virtual assistant proved very useful when it came to helping people with their care needs. 

The technology was also praised for its accessibility which makes it ideal for service users who may not be digitally savvy. 

The project was conducted by Argenti, Hampshire County Council and the Local Government Association, and the results were so successful that it won the 2018 International Technology Enabled Care Award for Innovation. 

Next steps

The ‘Alexification’ of adult social care was recently discussed at the Care England Conference. Social care minister Helen Whately said she was keen to “drive greater adoption of technology so that care staff can spend less time on paperwork” – adding that Alexa was “just the tip of the iceberg”. 

The government has recently shared plans to invest £100 million into digital transformation in adult social care over the coming two years. Part of this funding will go towards smart home technologies to ‘support the delivery of care’ and ‘significantly improve an individual’s quality of life’.

Social Personnel looks forward to seeing the continued digitisation of the adult social care sector. Who knew Alexa could do more than turn the radio on?!

Looking for a social care job near you? Get in touch with our consultants on 0203 8929 340 today to find out more about our current opportunities. 

carlette Isaac

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *