Community of Practice members survey: the power of data in social care

8th April 2022 about a 5 minute read

Last autumn we asked our member for insights into possible topics surrounding social care data analytics. We have summarised their responses to our survey here, focusing on the three main topics which we intend to tackle in future discussions on the Community of Practice.

Improving quality of care for cohorts of people experiencing the worst outcomes

Current issues

With regards to data, 45% of our members outlined the need for data availability and linking records, particularly on the views and experiences of people with lived experience of social care services. Some of you also outlined the need of quantitative measures on local health, equality and diversity indicators and real need vs allocated care.

36% of our members also emphasized the importance of advocacy for those who have no one to act for them, raising awareness of social care options and informing care providers about the preferences of older people who need their services.

The need for service improvement was also brought into discussion, with suggestions ranging from the need of effective management and better standards of care and training, to personalised and multidisciplinary care.

Finally, the need for more research into the impact of social care interventions as also mentioned.

Good practices in the field of social care analytics

Some of you provided specific examples of good practice, which we aim to help become more widespread in the field of social care analytics. Examples included organisations that offer digital care planning like KareInn and MySense, which also provide real time reporting on key parameter indicators and changes in residents’ dependencies. Organisations that are researching outcomes of people who have been in social care, such as Rees Centre and independent patient movements such as Use MY data are also essential for education and harnessing the patient voice to build confidence in the use of patient data to improve outcomes. Finally, trade bodies such as ARCO, who raise awareness among older people about housing options and gather data from care housing providers, can improve our understanding of the preferences of older people in the social care setting.

 Members’ suggestions for the Community of Practice 

  • Engaging with the community of carers and those being cared for on a range of topics such as health inequalities, care training and continuity of care.
  • Integrated approach to support including allied health professionals and social prescribing
  • Best practices on collection of data on outcomes, including collecting data from people with learning disabilities


Building a safe and resilient workforce

Current issues and examples of good practice

To ensure safety and resilience throughout the workforce, our members highlighted the need to attract people to work in the housing-with-care sector. To achieve this, we need to convey positive messages about the sector, and have open conversations with carers about the work culture and pay within the sector, their reasons for leaving, the strengths of the workforce, but also the ways it could become safer and more resilient.

Workforce data is necessary to understand local economies and for modelling effective staffing practices. Recruitment data and standardised information about vacancies are needed to recruit and retain people where there are key vacancies. Datasets such as the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set, maintained by Skills for Care is an excellent example of enabling open access to employee-level records of qualifications and experience. However, as our members noted, this is limited by voluntary participation, and it should become a standard practice to disseminate data with providers and employees.

Members’ suggestions for the Community of Practice

  • Sharing ideas on how data is collected and curated in the UK
  • Qualitative research involving the housing-with-care workforce to show their views on safety and resilience, as well as other aspects of their work
  • Facilitating collaboration between voluntary and statutory bodies
  • Benchmarking safe and resilient staff levels


Understanding the lived experience of people needing social care

Current issues and examples of good practice

27% our members agreed that we need to engage people with lived experience of care, particularly using qualitative methods such as interviews and using consistent and inclusive measures to provide a quantitative understanding of service user experience.

With regards to data, our members hinted towards the need for linked data covering health and social care services, as well as comparative data across different social care settings, particularly on factors such as independence, health and wellbeing and loneliness.

Our users provided several examples of good practices that empower and give a voice to service users. Measuring the Mountain is an organisation that gathers and analyses people’s experience of using care and support services and of being an unpaid carer. Another exemplar organisation is Asset-Based Community Development, which tries to solve urban and rural development problems by focusing on the needs and deficiencies of individuals and local communities.

Members’ suggestions for the Community of Practice

  • Development of user voice systems
  • Sharing ideas and experiences with data collection tools, particularly in terms of achieving data linkage
  • Benchmarking best practices
  • Exploring comparative data projects across different social care settings, looking at service users’ lifestyle, and which settings are best suited to meet older people’s needs