THE year 2020 will be remembered as a turning point in human history. We will talk in decades to come of the world before and after a pandemic that has undeniably affected almost every aspect of the world and the lives of us all.

We are still in the midst of this crisis, but it is important that ENABLE Scotland actively considers the lessons we can learn as it progresses. It is also essential that we reflect on our learning from the past when considering our approach to the pandemic. For in truth, the social care sector was in the middle of a perfect storm even before Covid-19 hit. We faced a significant downward pressure on income and similar upward pressure in costs.

Our approach was then, as it is with Covid-19, to transform the way we work rather than attempt to tailor it to a new, harsher, environment. Only a wholesale digital transformation could maximise our efficiency and impact positively on the sustainability of our services, ensuring that the maximum resources were directed towards frontline services.

Fundamentally, we wanted our 2,200-strong staff team to be able to focus on the delivery of the highest quality, most empowering, support. We wanted them to be assisted in this by technology rather than being distracted from it by administration. Our aspiration was to empower them by giving them control of the information they needed, when and wherever they needed it.

Our plan was to develop and build enterprise class technology services using the same level of rigour as deployed in global organisations, but at a cost that was affordable. The resulting end to end digital solution would be designed to fit the modern, personalised, social care sector. Providing low-cost, high quality, mobile devices to every member of staff would be the essential step for the organisation into the 21st century.

In a sector whose key resource is people, and which still overwhelmingly relies on paper, this fundamental shift to technology could have been a challenge. However, I am proud of the way that our teams have responded, embracing the technology we have adopted and delivering greater efficiency than we could have hoped for.

Fortuitously, our decision to invest in digital infrastructure is paying further dividends now in a Covid-19 world. No one could have predicted the uncertainty brought about by the virus, nor its tight grip on so many aspects of our lives. However, the investment and training in digital stands us in good stead to tackle these challenges head on, as well as providing adequate protections through other measures including personal protective equipment.

With further local lockdowns expected and decisions changing at pace, digital connectivity for a geographically dispersed team has never been so important.

For that reason, we made the decision last week to support the rollout of the new Protect Scotland app to all of our employees, distributing the app to all company mobile devices on the day it was launched. Something which would have been impossible to do had we not taken steps last year and invested so significantly in technology.

Our digital transformation was timely and the rollout has been a great success. However, it is only the beginning of a transformation in the way we work. We continue to identify opportunities for improvement with one goal in mind: to protect our people, those we work for and the communities in which we serve.

Theresa Shearer is Group Chief Executive of The Piper Group of which ENABLE Scotland is an original member.