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How data is improving care

Eliza McConnell, Engagement and Relationship Manager, Workforce Intelligence, Skills for Care shares a guest blog about how data is improving care.

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending The Managers Conference hosted by NCF and Skills for Care in Bedfordshire. The whole event was buzzing with energy from the dedicated registered managers who attended. I particularly enjoyed the discussion generated at my workshop on how data is being used to drive change in the sector. Don’t worry if you missed out – you can catch up on the key points below.

Informing policy and planning

There are many ways we’re helping the Government to understand social care and using data to drive change. It’s done through:

  • response to formal inquiries and government reviews
  • ministerial briefings
  • direct requests for information from our analysis team.

Immigration policy is an interesting example. In 2021, the Migration Advisory Committee approached us to help with their review of the impact of ending freedom of movement. We provided data that highlighted the important role that non-British workers play in our sector. Then in 2022, the Government confirmed that social care workers would be made eligible for the Health and Care Worker Visa.

Following those changes, we did some analysis on international recruitment for the Secretary of State – to help them understand the link between the high international recruitment inflows and the vacancy rate in the sector. We’re now publishing quarterly data on this topic to help show the trends that are happening.

Measuring the impact of reform

We also get asked if our data can help measure the impact of specific reforms. For example, we collect information about how many people have been interviewed for care worker roles. This is used as a metric to gauge the impact of recruitment campaigns and policies which aim to make the social care a more attractive career.

Last year, we worked with NHS Transformation Directorate to add digital jobs roles and training into our data set so they’ll be able to monitor the impact of their work to improve digital use in the sector.

Advocating for change

Trade associations and other bodies use the data in their role as advocates for change. For example, the Sector Pulse Check by Care England and Hft used our data combined with a survey of their members to highlight some of the current issues providers are facing. It then recommends practical actions that the Government, commissioners, and other stakeholders can take to relieve some of the issues. These include:

  • reforming VAT
  • establishing national commissioning standards
  • making international recruitment more accessible
  • increasing representation of adult social care on integrated care boards.

Increasing public awareness

Increasing public support for social care is an important step in ensuring the sector remains at the forefront for the Government. Our data gets quite a lot of media attention to help achieve this. Within a week of releasing one of our flagship reports last year, the data had been referenced in over 220 news stories and publications. It featured on the BBC Breakfast programme, BBC radio stations and Sky News and the Channel 4 programme Help!

Supporting providers locally

We know that local authorities, integrated care boards and care associations use the local level data to inform commissioning and support providers in their areas. Rupert Milsom from the Northwest Surrey Alliance said:

 “As a place-based provider collaborative, adult social care is one of the areas that it is hardest for us to gain unified insights. The insights that come from ASC-WDS are a vital window for us to understand the actions that we can take to support the development of this workforce and sector.”

Improvements for care providers

Care providers also use our data to benchmark quality improvements in their services. Using the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set, providers can see where they rank against local competitors on metrics like pay, vacancy rates and turnover.

Managers have told us that the insights have prompted them to make changes like increasing their pay rates, bringing in a new in-house trainer and increasing the amount of shadowing for new starters. They’re then using their data to measure the impact of these changes.  

Data can also give ideas to help providers make improvements in their services. Our latest report found five variables about someone’s employment which had an impact on retention. These included factors such as being able to work full time and access training. Where none of these factors apply, care workers are more than twice as likely to leave their jobs than when all five factors apply – a 48.7% turnover rate compared with 20.6%.

Want to be a part of shaping the future?

Our data and insights come from over 20,000 care providers who use the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set. It’s an opportunity to make your voice heard and there are also some great opportunities for your workplace. You can claim funding towards training your staff, manage information about your workers and their training, benchmark against other local providers and access special discounts and offers.

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