On this page you can find information about the Capacity Tracker, what is expected of providers, and how they can find support.
What is Capacity Tracker?
Capacity Tracker (CT) was originally developed by NECS in conjunction with NHS England and the Better Care Fund to enable the system to better manage hospital discharges by identifying available capacity in care homes. It was identified as a suitable tool for COVID-19 data collection from residential care providers as it was already in use by multiple care providers (such as Care Homes, Hospices and Community Providers) across English Regions. New sections of the tool were created as part of COVID19 emergency (level 4) response which were initially around PPE and COVID19 and Business continuity workforce, admission status etc.
Since August 2022, specific questions within Capacity Tracker have been mandated by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Why has the Capacity Tracker been mandated?
Throughout the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the DHSC offered support to the adult social care sector through the infection control fun (ICF). One of the conditions to access this fund, was to complete the Capacity Tracker on a regular basis. Following the end of the ICF (April 2022), the overall completion of the Capacity Tracker dropped. As the system was the main source of data collection for the DHSC, it was decided that making the Tracker mandatory would ensure a consistent flow of data. Availability of good quality and timely data from ASC providers is essential to:
- supporting efficient commissioning and systems assurance
- managing national, regional and local risks
- assisting with evolving situations, like COVID-19
- ultimately, helping to facilitate the care of individuals
DHSC have also published the impact assessment for the mandatory provision of data by adult social care providers. The IA outlines the four options DHSC considered for ASC data collection:
- Option 1 (business as usual): providers continue to input data voluntarily on a weekly basis
- Option 2 (recommended and the policy the Government are proceeding with): providers are mandated to submit data to Capacity Tracker, monthly basis
- Option 3: providers are mandated to complete Capacity Tracker on a weekly basis
- Option 4: providers are mandated to complete Capacity Tracker daily
Option 5: providers are mandated to complete Capacity Tracker quarterly
The Government have outlined that the reason for proceeding with the mandatory collection is to ensure the availability of good-quality and timely data from ASC providers is essential to improve services for users, support efficient commissioning and systems assurance, and to manage national, regional and local risks. The Government need data from all ASC providers to get an unbiased overview of the sector at levels similar to those achieved during the pandemic. The objective of intervention is to ensure we continue to get vital information from all ASC providers in the absence of incentives to provide data.
The Government have set out that the best estimate of a mid-point between high/low impact that the mandatory collection shall have on the sector is £0.8m – £2.7m.
What questions must I complete?
The following topics will be mandated for care home providers. For a full overview of the guidance, please see the DHSC website.
- Care home bed vacancies
- Workforce resourcing including absences
- Covid-19 vaccination
- Flu vaccination (seasonal)
The following topics will be mandated for home care providers (the guidance lists the full set of questions):
- Number of people using the service today
- Number of staff in the organisation that have face-to-face contact with the people being supported
- Number of staff delivering care that are not working because of coronavirus
- Covid-19 vaccination
Fly vaccination (seasonal)
What happens if I do not complete the Capacity Tracker?
Enforcement action can be taken against any private providers of ASC required to be registered with CQC, who without reasonable excuse fail to submit the information. Any action taken will occur over a period of months, rather than weeks. Financial penalties will normally be a last resort. The approach taken by DHSC will be a 4 stage process:
1. The first stage will focus on contacting providers to understand the issue and to offer them support and guidance ahead of the next time they are due to submit their data. Providers can use this communication to flag any extenuating circumstances.
2. The second stage is similar to the first stage with support and guidance offered to providers ahead of the next time they are due to submit their data. Providers can use this communication to flag any new or continued extenuating circumstances.
3. The third stage is reached where a provider continues not to provide the data or persistently fails to comply with their data obligations (or where the data is false or misleading to a material extent). A notice of intent will be issued at this stage to remind the provider of their legal obligation to comply and warn that a final notice may be issued. A provider can make formal representations within 14 days to explain why they were unable to comply with the requirement to provide information and a decision will be made as to whether or not to proceed to a final notice.
4. The fourth stage is reached when any written representations have been received and considered and a decision has been made (within 28 days) as to whether or not to proceed to a final notice. This decision will take into account whether a provider has made adequate attempts to comply or engage with the support offered, or where they continue to not comply with their data obligations, whether their reasons for not complying constitute a reasonable excuse. Where providers have not made adequate attempts to comply or engage with the support offered, or where they continue to not comply with their data obligations and their reasons for not complying do not present reasonable excuse, a final notice imposing a financial penalty may be issued.
Examples of when a provider may want to make representations against the notice of intent include:
- the provider has reasonable excuses for not complying
- the provider has made adequate attempts to comply and has been prevented from complying due to circumstances out of their control
- the notice contains an error or is based on inaccurate facts
- the notice should not have been issued for some other reason
Reasonable excuses for not complying with the mandated data include, but are not limited to:
- an emergency situation at the provider location – such as a new COVID-19 outbreak -that has a significant impact on the day-to-day running of the provider’s business
- a computer failure at the provider location – such as a cyber attack – that lasts a number of months and prevents the ability of the provider to provide the requested information
One area Care England is keen to understand is whether all CQC care providers have signed up to the Capacity Tracker and are aware of the mandated data set. Furthermore, Care England has requested if a care provider does not have the sufficient infrastructure (connectivity/hardware) to comply with the mandation, DHSC must provide support.
For further information on the penalisation process, please see the DHSC website.
How can I contact Capacity Tracker?
You can call the support team on: 0191 691 3729
You can email the support team: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please reference your organisations name/setting and Capacity Tracker within the subject.
What work has Care England done on Capacity Tracker?
Care England sat as part of the Capacity Tracker Data Advisory Group (DAG) and the Capacity Tracker Steering Board. By being part of these groups, Care England was able to directly advise and feedback comments to the DHSC. The Capacity Tracker DAG has now transformed into the Provider Data Advisory Group (PDAG), which now also advises the Government on the development of the National Minimum Data Set (NMDS). This data set will eventually take on the role as the main source of data collection for the adult social care sector.
Throughout the development of Capacity Tracker, Care England continued to advocate for provider access to the data they were inputting, which was eventually granted in April 2021. Care England has also been involved in the revision of questions, streamlining them down so that the burden of data inputting decreases. Care England has been a strong advocator for providers to have financial support for completing the Capacity Tracker.
Care England also hosts weekly slide decks that showcase Capacity Tracker data – access here [only available to Care England members].
On 06 October 2022, Care England facilitated a workforce Q&A session with DHSC following changes in Autumn 2022:
Care England also ran a session for its membership on 09 September 2021 which outlined the roadmap for Capacity Tracker. Whilst this roadmap has now significantly changed, it is a helpful guide to understanding the future of Capacity Tracker:
What to chat more about Capacity Tracker?
Care England is also eager to talk to providers about Capacity Tracker and wider data collections. To continue the conversation further, please email email@example.com.