Home / Resources & Guidance / Data … What is it good for?

Easy to respond “Absolutely nothing” parodying Frankie Goes to Hollywood circa 19841 … but heh let’s consider it a bit more.

I think we are all in social care tired of various organizations requesting data …. Everybody wants a bit of us for research and analysis, be it on Covid incidence in care homes, how we have adapted the use of digital, how carers are coping with the stress, financial data, anonymized data, data about our experience of accessing PPE, the mental stress on carers.

Even here at Care England we are working with various agencies to give data for research on care home services. August institutions such as the LSE, Newcastle University and others are all hungry for us to feed them data. NHSX wants data about how we are accessing digital care records, and I am guilty of asking overworked care staff for data on how they are coping.

There has been a resurgence of interest in data, because one of the main reasons that so many people died in care situations in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was the lack of data about who was where who had tested positive and the state of the care services. The NHS responded by promoting Capacity Tracker, a tool formerly used to locate available beds in care, as the main portal for collating figures in care homes, while the CQC took the lead in collating homecare figures. This was tough: at the height of the pandemic we were being asked to manually input figures to systems so that the overall situation in our localities, regions and nationally could be analysed to help us respond.

From talking to many care staff the main gripe is that when we provide the data, we see little direct benefit and guidance coming from the work we put in. We are not selfish in social care, but we do need to know that the work we put into providing data, completing returns and keeping the authorities updated will result in us being able to provide an even better service for the people we support and care for.

I think that the future has to be integrated systems which incorporate data we use on a daily basis. Linking this data to pools or data banks will help us plan our care provision in the future. If we had a system which required us to input data into one system which operated in concert with other data systems, then we could realise the benefit to the individual care service, to the locality, to the region and to the nation as a whole. The only way that the data collection burden can be minimised and the benefit maximised is by strengthening the data systems in the regional Integrated Care Systems (NHS England » Integrated care systems).

So when someone asks you for data or to participate in a study, don’t immediately say “no”: your data is essential if we are to continue to provide quality care, however, I do encourage you to ask the question, to challenge the person asking for your data, “Please tell me, what is it good for?”

Daniel Casson
Adviser on digital transformation to Care England
Executive of Digital Social Care www.digitalsocialcare.co.uk
Casson Consulting: Digital Transformation in Social Care
Governor the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Trust https://alderhey.nhs.uk/
@CareEngDigital @DigiSocialCare
Daniel Casson _ LinkedIn


1.   Original by Edwin Star, Motown 1969