The use of data and data sharing within social care

Mark Gibbs, Project Manager, City of Wolverhampton Council

“The City of Wolverhampton has had access to combined health and social care data for several years now but we’ve only recently started using it.

“Given the relationship between people’s health and their care needs, having access to health data ought to be essential for adult social care service planning and commissioning. However, the primary use for data in adult social care historically, is to monitor and report service activity and performance, much of which is driven by the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF) and the requirement to report activity to central government.

“Wolverhampton’s Adult Services has taken the opportunities offered by the Digital Social Care Pathfinders programme to really exploit the availability of wider datasets and analytical tools to improve services and health and care outcomes.

“This has meant the team carving out time for a data analyst, to understand and focus on using the available data and the analytical software to understand the links between a person’s health and their care needs.

“Our initial focus has been on home care services and their importance in respect to hospital discharge and in the context of the Department of Health and Social Care’s intention to discharge 95% of people back into their home. This is a challenge for community based health and social care services.

“It’s a real benefit and delight to have access to such rich health and social care data. Wolverhampton council now have greater insights such as how many people with long term health conditions do not access many services, whilst at the same time we have data on other residents who don't have a long-term health condition but who do access multiple services. The data available to us now makes it possible to drill down into this further and ask why.

“The way we’re starting to use data supports our integration agenda. The understanding drawn from the data helps us better manage the health and care needs of our communities to help people stay independent for longer taking pressure off our more stretched services.

“A greater understanding of the inter-relationship of health and social care will improve our approach to the provision of home care that recognises the complexity of needs within the city’s population.

“For adult social care this could mean expanding the capacity in home care and reablement services as well as coordinating work with community health and voluntary sector organisations to provide integrated provision.“