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By Lynsey Cross, ADR Wales Social Care Research Officer

As part of the ADR UK Conference 2023, the ADR Wales social care team, along with the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research and the Office for National Statistics, hosted a workshop discussing linked data research in adult social care across the UK.

The workshop enabled discussion and knowledge sharing on experiences, challenges and opportunities around the theme of linked data research on adult social care across the UK. It gave us an open and inclusive platform to think about ways to advance linked data research in this area across all four UK nations, as well as identify possible opportunities for collaboration and learning between UK partners. Over 30 people attended, including researchers, data owners, members of the public and policymakers. Their enthusiasm and experience helped us build shared understanding and gather a lot of great insights.

We’ve created this series of blogs to share the thoughts and reflections of the people who participated. These focus on participants’ views of these important, underpinning questions:

  • What is social care research?
  • What data is currently available that can be used for social care research? And what data would ideally be available?
  • What are priority research areas for linked adult social care research?

At ADR Wales, we have joined forces with Social Care Wales to lead on our social care programme of work. We align and inform our work based on Health and Care Research Wales’s definition of ‘social care research’ – that it should focus on at least one important area of care broadly covering:

  • Relationships
  • Advice and assistance
  • Protection
  • Social need
  • Systems and settings
  • Policies
  • Community cohesion

In the workshop, we asked people to reflect on this definition and think about what it means in their own context. We asked them to answer the question, “what is social care research?” Conversations were animated and passionate – with sticky notes flying everywhere, and we had lots of suggestions. Although the ideas were very broad, everyone agreed that the research should help organisations, service providers, policymakers, and people accessing care make informed, evidence-based decisions.

It’s clear that social care research means different things to different people. It’s also evident that good social care research, carried out by passionate and supportive researchers and policymakers, has the power to help and support so many.  We are pleased that our workshop created a space for those operating within the social care research community across the UK to discuss approaches. Together, we’re striving to develop further understanding and create an ambitious multi-disciplinary, multi-organisational, UK-wide approach to addressing social care needs.

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Join us for an event that will highlight 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 across two dates – one at the National Museum in Cardiff (changed from Swansea) on 23 January, and the other online on 6 February.

The events, which will run from 9.30am to 4pm, will bring together stakeholders who are 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 to attend in Swansea or online.