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Generative AI in Social Care

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Earlier this month, representatives of thirty organisations and individuals working in Adult Social Care met at the University of Oxford, Reuben College, to discuss the benefits and risks of using ‘generative AI’ in social care.

The event was the first in a series of “AI in adult social care” roundtable events organised by Dr Caroline Green at the University of Oxford Institute for Ethics in AI, Reuben College, the Digital Care Hub and Casson Consulting. The aim of the event was to articulate a collective understanding of generative AI’s role in social care settings and to discuss its challenges, benefits and viable use cases. There was a core focus on what would constitute responsible and ethical use of this emerging technology.

Following the event, a statement has been published which organisations such as the National Care Forum (NCF) have endorsed.

Opening up Opportunities through AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers many opportunities and potential benefits to adult social care. Generative AI, such as Large Language Models (LLMs) that power AI chatbots, can aid with various tasks in social care. However, many activities in social care directly touch on peoples’ human rights and wellbeing. At this point of time, there are no guidelines for people using social care services, care providers including family carers, tech developers or organisations integrating AI chatbots into their services, commissioners etc. on what responsible use of generative AI in social care entails.

The statement outlines the need for robust and rapid work to co-produce actional guidelines for appropriate usage and deployment of generative AI in social care. In addition, it commits the group to engaging in a co-production and consultation process drawing in more people and organisations in social care.

Responses

Dr Caroline Green from the Institute for Ethics in AI said: “Adult social care is about supporting people to live independently and to protect fundamental human rights. Generative AI offers many potential benefits and opportunities to adult social care. However, the rapid development and wide availability of generative AI, such as AI chatbots, is a concern when it comes to use cases in adult social care settings because some fundamental values defining what quality care looks like are at stake if such technology is used inappropriately. We therefore need to address the gap of knowledge and guidance around generative AI quickly, involving all groups of people who are affected and working in social care provision”.

Professor Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of National Care Forum said: “AI is impacting on all parts of our lives, and it is right that we take a view on how it can and should be used in the care sector. We need to advance our understanding of the benefits it can bring to care, whilst recognising the need to proceed with caution in some areas. Generative AI is developing incredibly quickly and if we miss the opportunity to capture the good it can do for us, we risk losing out. However, as outlined in the statement, we must
ensure that the human rights of people using care, and the precious relationships the act of caring for someone creates, are not sacrificed in pursuit of the capabilities of Generative AI”.

Curia’s NHS Innovation and Life Sciences Commission

Independent, cross-party, and not-for-profit, as a policy institute Curia turns policy into practice as the UK’s first “do tank”.

Jointly chaired by former Life Sciences and Innovation Minister, Lord James O’Shaughnessy and former Deputy Medical Director at NHS England Professor Mike Bewick, the NHS Innovation and Life Sciences Commission seeks to identify examples of good practice in innovation, draw learning and consider how implementation plans across the sector can improve the lives of patients. By bringing together key strands of policy and developing effective implementation strategies through extensive research, the Commission seeks to see change at every level within the NHS.

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