Making intelligent use of data to support sustainable and quality social care
ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) has published a report called ‘THE DATA DIMENSION - Making intelligent use of data to support sustainable and quality social care’, following a roundtable debate held at their Spring Seminar in Staffordshire.
The event, focused on how data, analytics and technology can contribute to raising the quality of care services for adults and brought together eight social care leaders, chaired by Mrs Margaret Willcox, the Director of Adult Social Care at Gloucestershire County Council and immediate past president of ADASS. The event was sponsored by CM2000, provider of software solutions and related services to Local Authorities and care providers.
With adult social care under pressure, budgets are stretched, and rising numbers of people need support. With neither increasing demand or tight finances likely to end soon, adult social care directors face the challenge of ensuring that these twin pressures do not lead to poorer quality services or unsustainable provider markets.
Roundtable panel consisted of:
Key discussions took place around the role of data intelligence in monitoring quality and spotting problems, as well as regional data sharing. There was interesting debate around the need for greater feedback from Service Users and encouraging more use of mobile technology for health and social care – as well as many other varied topics.
The roundtable’s chair Mrs Margaret Willcox, set the scene:
“One thing that repeatedly comes up in recent discussions about best value practice is restricted and reducing budgets.
Are we getting to the point in commissioning where quality gets lost or do we have examples where some quality has improved because people have thought more creatively about what a person requires and how their needs can be met?”
Improving the quality of commissioning and care delivery through data and analytics is a very broad topic. And as such, the roundtable could only touch the surface of the diverse ways data is being used. Examples cited during the discussion demonstrate how data is helping to benchmark quality, spot problems and present new information across services.
Initiatives where councils share data to understand the big picture seem helpful and there is clearly an appetite for more feedback from service users in quality assessment. Realising the full potential of data and analytics requires everyone involved in care delivery to embrace the latest technology – and that requires investment. This is still a limiting factor for many providers, despite evidence from the sector regarding return on investment.
Technology can contribute to the prevention agenda. Changes in the way people expect to use technology to manage their health and social care are needed to maximise its potential, but acceptance is likely to increase over time.
Returning to the over-arching question of whether quality has been lost in current commissioning practice – there is clearly a passion and desire to ensure quality is not compromised. The roundtable highlighted the positive contribution data and analytics can make with its varied applications.
The highlights of the debate can be read in the report which can be downloaded from the ADASS website.