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Why having evidence and data is so important for social care in Wales

Why having evidence and data is so important for social care in Wales

| Sue Evans, our Chief Executive

One of our aims is to make sure social care in Wales is underpinned by high-quality research, data and other forms of evidence. This will help us make sure the people of Wales can access care and support that meets their needs.

Data and evidence can give us rich intelligence that those working in social care can use to help shape and improve care and support for the people of Wales – now and in the future.

It can tell us who’s using care and support and what they think about services, where there are gaps, where there are opportunities to make things better and what the challenges are.

We can also use data and evidence to forecast what support may be needed in the future, so we can plan ahead and make sure those services are in place.

It’s essential for decision making and if we don’t use the data and evidence that’s available well, we’ll miss so many opportunities.

But it’s not just about collecting more data. Part of the challenge is to look at how we can link the existing data we have with that of other sectors, so we can join the dots and build a picture about the state of the nation because we know the citizens of Wales don’t use services in isolation.

If you’re using social care, you’re likely also accessing the NHS and you may be using other public services, too.

We’re at the start of our data and evidence journey at Social Care Wales but we’ve made great strides in recent years.

Our annual workforce data report, for example, gives us insight into the almost 85,000 people working in social care in Wales, along with useful information about the challenges the sector’s facing, such as vacancy rates and sickness levels.

We’ve also just launched our second survey of the social care workforce in Wales, following the success of last year’s pilot survey.

The survey asks those who are registered with us what they think about things such as their health and well-being, pay and conditions, and what it’s like working in social care.

I was delighted when more than 1,000 people completed the second survey in its first four days and it shows just how important it is to give care workers the chance to tell us what they think.

The findings of both reports have given us lots of valuable evidence to back up things we already knew anecdotally, and we’ve shared the findings with influential decision makers, such as social care leaders, Welsh Government and politicians.

We also have exciting data and evidence projects in the pipeline. In the next few months, we’ll be launching a new website.

Called the Insight Collective, the website will be a one-stop-shop for information about social care research, data and innovation in Wales.

It will be an invaluable resource for anyone working in the sector who’s looking to find out what’s working and why it’s working well.

We’ve also launched a new-look national social care data portal for Wales (socialcaredata.wales) to make it easier for people to find the data they’re looking for.

The data portal is a useful tool that gathers different types of data related to social care, such as numbers of social workers and how many children are being looked after by local authorities.

It’s an exciting time for social care evidence and data in Wales, and you can find out more about this vital area of our work on our website.