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How our data informs social care

Wednesday 13 November 2019 Data Insight & Analytics

Luke Hardy's picture
By Luke Hardy

With a rise in the aging population it’s not an understatement to say that the UK is facing an adult social care crisis. The growth in demand and complexity of adult social care needs comes at a time of reports that 1 in 5 councils will be facing drastic spending cuts this year.

For local authorities, as demands go up and budgets go down, maintaining the standards of social care requires careful examination and a brand-new approach in order to provide people the care they require. Many local authorities have managed this by reducing spending in ‘non-essential’ areas, however this is not a long-term sustainable solution as it becomes more difficult to cut those services any further.

The result is local authorities adapting the way they work to find new solutions in data analytics and technology to support their way forward.

In line with this the LGA have collaborated with NHS Digital to support funding in digital innovation – the Social Care Digital Innovation Programme (SCDIP). Now in it’s 3rd wave of funding, 43 projects have already been funded and a further 12 will be selected in the latest round.

And some of the key projects on the agenda? Digital integration, data sharing, and early intervention.

Connecting the dots – creating data sharing and integration

The government set a high target of achieving health and social care integration fully across the UK by 2020 and as we approach the end of 2019, we’ve seen some of the challenges that has presented. However, most councils now understand that digital integration underpins social care integration and are now pushing digital transformation projects up their agenda with or without SCDIP funding.

Councils such as Luton, Central Bedfordshire and Plymouth are looking to integrate health and social care information into social care provider systems. By taking the data they hold in number of disparate systems used across the health care and implementing new data analytics solutions that join up all of the data held, they are able to create a ‘whole person view’ of an individual.

This gives social care staff access to mental health, primary and community health data that was not previously available, where before they only had a view of the information that they had collected. The benefits for front line staff can be seen as they can now make accurate, confident decisions more efficiently and with more information than ever before.

By connecting the social and healthcare systems, there is the opportunity to standardise the collected data, as well as for health and care professionals to share information about patients. This improves situations such as a patient’s transition between different care settings and ensures continuity of care wherever they are.

Thinking of the future – data analytics for early intervention

The need to adapt has opened the door for local authorities to look to the future. How they can predict future demands, enable early intervention, and through all of that make cost savings and other efficiencies.

Digital NHS have introduced a grant award to care providers and research organisations to address just this issue. Encouraging a focus within social care to use predictive analytics to predict or prevent long term social care needs.

By using historical data as well as the new data coming into the systems all the time, predictive analytics is able to forecast using techniques applied to these data sets to create predictive models. These models show the likelihood of specific future events, and from here at a strategic level we can look more accurately at ‘what-if’ scenarios and make smarter risk-assessments.

So far, we have seen examples of this approach being taken by local authorities such as London Borough of Hackney, who have been exploring how predictive analytics can be applied to flag individuals in care that may be at risk. Overall this helps manage demand and target resources to the right place at the right time. Shropshire County Council is also working on an SCDIP funded project that uses large data sets with predictive analytics to better predict and manage future demands on their services.

Conclusion

By introducing better data sharing and predictive analytics, councils are starting to see the benefits for balancing their budgets and ensuring their residents get the help they need. And while there’s no denying there’s a big challenge for local authorities to do a lot more with a lot less, the SCDIP is just one example of where digital transformation and data driven solutions help across the board in both saving money and support human needs across social care in the UK today.

CACI work with Local Authorities and Healthcare organisations across the UK to implement BI and data solutions built around organisational goals.

Read about how data solutions are shaping improvements in social care

How our data informs social care