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By Lynsey Cross, ADR Wales Social Care Research Officer

Welcome to the third and final blog on reflections from our pre-conference workshop at the ADR UK Conference 2023, which focused on linked data research on adult social care.

This instalment highlights the key research priorities for adult social care data research, as identified by our workshop delegates. We’ve summarised below a list of four broad research themes that emerged from the workshop discussions:

The overall list of proposed priority areas was extensive, however there were four cross cutting areas:

Demographics

There are many reasons why demographics were specifically mentioned within three of the four research areas. Conversations consistently led back to the same overarching point: we need to better understand people.

The social care profession is reliant on a large workforce of people; in 2022 there were an estimated  84,134 people employed in the social care workforce in Wales, these figures were published in the Social Care Wales Annual Workforce Report 2022. The workforce supports people in need. Those being supported are surrounded by people – friends and family. Understanding the demographics of each of these communities would lead to better outcomes for all, including workforce retention, sustained levels of health and wellbeing, and effective service provision.

Health and wellbeing

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the health and wellbeing status of the adult social care workforce, those in receipt of care, and the friends and families of both communities. It became evident that stress and burn-out are real issues for our workforce and unpaid carers. Workshop participants passionately shared how supporting the health and wellbeing of the workforce was essential. They agreed that by promoting and sustaining the health and wellbeing of those providing care, these groups are then better positioned to ensure that others’ care needs are met. This means they can deliver good quality care and enable those receiving care services to live as independently as possible.

Experiences

Every person who makes up the ‘social care community’ – whether they are involved professionally, or because they are receiving support services (or supporting someone who is) – engages with the community uniquely, and for unique reasons. People have their own care needs, and we must understand them to ensure they receive the best possible service. Care should be delivered in the way they need it and at the best time for them.

Forecasting

Forecasting for social care services and resources is a valuable tool. It can predict future needs for various services, finances, and workforce resources. This type of modelling provides an evidence base for funding, strategy, and policy writing. Workshop delegates acknowledged that current forecasting models can assist with forecasting service provision, but more work must be done when the relevant data becomes available.

Reflections on the workshop

This workshop provided a positive and exciting space to continue a UK-wide conversation around using adult social care data for research. The multi-disciplinary group from across the UK spoke openly and freely about the strengths and limitations of linked data research on adult social care and its potential.

Overall, the future for research in this field looks bright. If we pool our knowledge and experiences together, we can enhance the quality of linked data and research on adult social care to provide further public benefit.

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Are you interested in adult social care?

 Join us for an event highlighting the value of linked data research in adult social care in Wales.

‘Unlocking the power of adult social care data’ in Wales will be held online on 6th February.

The event will bring together stakeholders interested in collecting, sharing or using adult social care data to benefit the public and improve social care policies and practice. Among those attending will be researchers and policymakers, along with representatives from local authorities, independent social care providers, the third sector and the public.

 Sign up here