When Social Care Wales was first established in 2017, one of the responsibilities we were given was to set priorities for research into social care and collect data that would help us better meet people’s needs.
The importance of this work has been reinforced by Covid-19, which has shown the value of data when planning care and support services, and how they are provided to the public.
There is already a national social care data portal for Wales, which gives access to existing, routinely collected social care data in one place.
This helps practitioners understand the demand for care and support services and what is available. It can also show how well services are being provided and the outcomes for individuals.
We are also leading on developing a more strategic approach to social care data with Welsh Government and other partners. It is a commitment shared with leaders and organisations from across social care in Wales. We all want to create a strong culture in Wales of using data ethically to improve care planning and decisions to help meet the needs of people and communities.
As part of work to set priorities for social care research, we recently published findings from a project to find out what people over 65 thought were the important questions they wanted answers to.
This study was developed by Health and Care Research Wales and Social Care Wales, in association with the James Lind Alliance.
Almost 400 older people, carers and social care practitioners were asked, “how can we best provide sustainable care and support to help older people live happier and more fulfilling lives?”.
They said the questions they would like to see answered were:
- does early care planning and/or early or regular contact by social care services help prevent problems and result in better experiences for older people than waiting until there is a crisis?
- how can we reduce isolation and stress among carers of older people and prevent burn-out?
- how can social care and health services, including the voluntary sector, work together more effectively to meet the needs of older people?
- how can social care for older people be tailored to the interests and needs of individuals, including better involvement in decisions about their own care?
- how can social care best support older people with complex needs – those who need support from a range of health and social care services?
- how can social care for older people be funded in a sustainable way?
- what barriers do older people experience in using services? How can access be improved?
- how can terms and conditions, including wages, be improved for staff providing social care to older people? Will this attract more people to the profession?
- how can social care for older people be kept at a consistently high quality?
- how can home and community-based social care help older people to socialise, reducing loneliness and isolation?
Another recent development is the first study to use our anonymised registered workforce data for a major research project. Led by Cardiff University, in partnership with Public Health Wales and Swansea University, the 18-month study will look at the risk Covid-19 poses to the care workers who support people at home in Wales.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our work on social care data and research, take a look at our website at socialcare.wales/research-and-data.