Engage: How employers are helping shape the social care sector through use of workforce data

As Skills for Care celebrate the official launch of the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS) their CEO Oonagh Smyth reflects on the impact that those using the service are having on the sector.

I am absolutely delighted to be shining a light on Skills for Care’s Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS) with our official product launch.

The service first went live with its core functionality in 2019 as a minimum viable product, and since then Skills for Care’s Workforce Intelligence team has been working on adding more useful features to the service based on the feedback from the 20,000 social care employers already inputting their data.

ASC-WDS is an evolution of Skills for Care’s National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC) which was established in 2005. NMDS-SC evolved from a paper collection to an online service and was eventually replaced by ASC-WDS in 2019.

For those who aren’t familiar with ASC-WDS it’s an online service which is designed to help key sector decision makers understand our large and complex sector.  It tells us that 105,000 staff vacancies are advertised on any given day, the average turnover rate for care workers is 34% and that we’ll need 490,000 more jobs by 2035 to keep up with an aging population.

It’s free to use and helps social care employers to safely and securely manage staff records. It also provides access to funding for training and gives managers a tool to keep track of their staff training requirements. A benchmarking feature allows care providers to compare elements of their workplace performance with similar organisations in the local area.

But beyond the day-to-day management support that ASC-WDS provides, what makes this service really attractive is an opportunity for every social care provider to contribute to the shaping and planning of our sector’s workforce.

Every social care employer who is using ASC-WDS is helping to develop a clear picture of the adult social care workforce and sector. By sharing their workforce data, ASC-WDS users provide vital insight into the sector including the demographic make-up of our workforce; the organisational structure and offering; the career journey of people working in social care; pay rates for different roles and across different areas, and indicators of wellbeing and job satisfaction including turnover and sickness rates.

These insights are crucial in helping decision makers to understand what the social care workforce really looks like, and where support is needed to invest in a social care system that best supports our communities and helps creates a rewarding career and valued workforce.

At Skills for Care we use these insights to create our annual ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ and ‘Size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ reports, which are important resources used by the Government, DHSC, local authorities and other key sector stakeholders to inform policies, planning and decisions for the sector, including decisions around the impacts of COVID-19, Brexit, and current recruitment challenges.

Our most recent ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report was launched in October analysing key figures including the make-up of the sector, the demographics of the workforce, key trends, future projections, and this year, the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.

These reports, and the important insights which they deliver, would not be possible without the input of the 20,000 social care providers sharing their data through ASC-WDS, and so I extend a big thank you to you all.

As just a small way of saying thank you to the social care providers sharing their insights to support the sector, our newly launched Benefits Bundle will also provide all new and existing ASC-WDS account holders with special offers and discounts across Skills for Care’s products and services, including 10% off all items in our bookshop and our e-learning modules.

The past year has been a really challenging one for social care, and there’s no doubt our data and insight has really allowed us to provide key intelligence on the impact of the pandemic on our workforce, the challenges the virus created, and where we need to focus to prepare for the future.

As we now officially launch the ASC-WDS service, I am hopeful that more providers will sign up to share their insights and to help us to continue to paint an even clearer picture of what the sector looks like right now, what it might look like in the future, and what we can do to make sure that our sector’s workforce is the best it can be.

Find out more about ASC-WDS and sign up.


About The Author

Oonagh Smyth is CEO of Skills for Care – the workforce development charity for the 1.5 million people who work in adult social care in England and the strategic delivery partner for the Department of Health and Social Care. Prior to starting in Skills for Care in 2020, Oonagh was the Executive Director of Strategy and Influence in Mencap, her role covered three countries and she led governance, strategy, programme delivery and influencing work.

Oonagh (pictured) has held senior roles at the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action and the Northern Ireland Equality Commission, Westminster Equalities Partnership and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. She is a former Co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, which is a cross-sector alliance of 80 social care organisations influencing at the highest government levels.

Picture (c) Skills For Care.