Engage: The importance of using data in decision making across social care – Tricia Pereira

When it comes to making decisions, you may turn to your own experience, talking with a colleague, or a simple gut instinct, but another tool to support effective decision making is reliable data.

And we have high quality workforce data that can really inform your decision making in the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS).

ASC-WDS is an online data collection service where care providers log records of their workforce. This data can be used by care organisations to benchmark their workplace against similar services, looking at key metrics including pay, turnover, and sickness levels.

The data collected through those submissions to ASC-WDS provides intelligence about the sector’s workforce to decision makers, including the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and local authorities.

Having this data available is crucial in helping decision makers make choices that are reflective of the state and structure of adult social care wherever they are.

How data helps social care

The Skills for Care Workforce Intelligence Team uses ASC-WDS data to produce industry reports which provide key workforce insights on adult social care.

Our 2021 Size and Structure Report has been published this month, providing a comprehensive overview of the make-up of the social care workforce. It looks at the number of jobs in adult social care, the different settings which people are working in and the impact COVID-19 has had on the size and structure of the social care workforce.

DHSC use insights provided through our data publications to help them understand and shape adult social care in England.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) also use this data for planning inspections, while local authorities use it to plan local care services, and Health Education England (HEE) use the data to plan education places for nurses and occupational therapists.

Data also allows us to forecast what the future of adult social care might look like.

This projection allows everyone working across social care – whether at a delivery or policy level – to ensure that we are prepared for the future through investment in the sector, and promoting social care as a valued career option for the future workforce.

Using data to build strategy

At Skills for Care, we have recently launched our new strategy and having joined the organisation in March as Operations Director this is something which I have been working on very closely. Using data has been integral in shaping our strategy for the future.

Our vision is of a fair and just society where people can access the advice, care, and support that they need to enjoy lifelong independence, health and wellbeing, and a good quality of life. Also, one where people working in social care are recognized, valued and feel supported. Our mission is to ensure we have the right number of people in the right place and at the right time, with the right skills, values, and behaviours to achieve this vision.

We are constantly using data to horizon scan, and to identify what is missing, or could be improved so that we can establish how we can make the biggest impact through the work that we do. Knowing this means that we can then plan our activity to make the most positive difference.

A key part of building our strategy has been through an Evidence Review, which included 13 stakeholder consultations, and a review of 187 documents. From this evidence we identified the four biggest challenges facing social care and the workforce, from which we can assess how we best respond to solving these challenges.

Having access to this solid data to plan our strategy and the work that we do is vital in making sure we are making a difference, and that the services we offer are meeting the sector’s needs.

Tools for decision making

While experience, consultation and gut instinct will always be a part of decision making, having data available as a tool is integral in shaping policies and strategies based on where social care is right now, and where we want it to be in the future.

You can find out more about workforce intelligence and our ASC-WDS data on our website.

You can also find out more about all of our tools and resources for supporting managers on our website.

About the Author

Tricia Pereira is Director of Operations at Skills for Care having joined the organisation in March 2021 from the London Borough of Merton where she was Head of Operations – Adult Social Care. Tricia is a social worker by background, and has also led government taskforces including most recently Co-Chairing the BAME Communities Advisory Group during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Picture (c) Youtube.