A new report, Data that Cares, highlights structural changes to the residential care home market in England and calls for investment in critical digital infrastructure to ensure that residential care providers potentially at risk of failing financially are easier to identify.
The research has been published by independent charity, Future Care Capital (FCC), and uses publicly available data about local authority spending on social care as well as data published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Companies House.
The report highlights findings from its analysis of large datasets and uses machine learning techniques to help address the concerns set out in the most recent budget survey report from the Association for Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS). The report indicated that one-third of councils (52) with social care responsibilities had seen residential or nursing care providers close or cease trading in the previous six months. If the findings from FCC’s analysis are extrapolated to consider the implications of its modelling for England as a whole, 25,205 beds could potentially be ‘at risk’ amongst care home operators on the basis of its most cautious definition of risk – equivalent to 5% of residential care home beds in England as of July 2019.
FCC’s report also highlights significant gaps in our knowledge of social care demand and provision for the purposes of planning and commissioning as well as for families in search of high-quality care for their loved ones.
As political parties prepare to publish their manifesto commitments, FCC has called upon the Government to introduce a ‘Digital Duty of Care’ which would require all public bodies responsible for the commissioning, provision, monitoring or regulation of social care services to collect and publish high quality, interoperable data to enable:
The lack of comprehensive, high quality and standardised social care data means that policymakers are fumbling in the dark when it comes to planning for social care as it is hard to see whether public funds are being spent wisely, pinpoint areas for improvement or spot weaknesses in local care markets before they impact service users. If the cash injections offered by politicians in this election are to be put to best use, it will be crucial for policymakers and commissioners to have a better understanding of care markets. It is clear from our research that a commitment to high-quality care for the most vulnerable people in our society needs to go hand in hand with high-quality social care data. Annemarie Naylor MBE, Director of Policy and Strategy, FCC
This is a view supported by CEO of the Open Data Institute, Jeni Tennison who said: “As governments, businesses and charities seek to improve social care provision, we should remember to also strengthen the data infrastructure that supports it. A society that cares needs data that cares.”
Speaking at the launch of the Doteveryone report Better care in the age of automation on 24 September, Ed Humpherson, Director General – Office for Statistics Regulation, commented “I am responsible for regulating data across economics, employment, health and more and it is social care that stands out by far for its low quality or even absent data. We need parity of measurement to have parity of policy. This is particularly significant when comparing social care to the data-rich health system.”