The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is keen to ensure that statistics are able to answer important questions for society, are readily accessible, and provide a coherent and insightful narrative across sources where applicable. We see statistics as a public asset and want to maximise their value to users. Systemic reviews help us explore issues of public value and identify improvements that the statistics system may need to make.

One such area of statistics we are keen to further explore through the systemic review process is that of adult social care. In general, adult social care can be defined as the provision of social work, personal care, protection or social support services to adults in need or at risk.  A broad range of adults with needs arising from illness, disability, old age and/or poverty use social care. Statistics on adult social care present information on a variety of topics including:

  • Care at home
  • Adult social care services
  • Adult social care expenditure and deferred payments
  • People who are registered blind
  • Adult social care workforce
  • Dementia assessment and referral

OSR has heard from users that there is a growing need for statistics to understand how social care operates including issues of waiting times, access routes, funding, effectiveness, staffing and client experience. Such information is necessary to inform policy, and workforce and budget allocation particularly in local government. These are critical issues of high public interest where good statistics are vital to policy and service delivery. Responsibility for adult social care is devolved across the UK.

What we plan to do and why

This systemic review will explore the adult social care statistics landscape across the UK to better understand the strengths and weaknesses, and share the learning across the four nations, recognising the policy variations that have led to differences in how statistics are produced.

We want to further understand users’ needs for statistics about adult social care and discover and share best practice in the compilation, harmonisation, data linking potential, publication and statistical commentary of these statistics.

Through this systemic review we hope to also increase and strengthen the number and quality of our relationships with both the adult social care statistics producers and users and support those who can specifically deliver change.

How we will do it

Stage 1: Planning – We will compile the evidence already collected from stakeholders and identify producers and users to engage with.

Stage 2: Research – We will examine adult social care policies, approaches and data sources and engage with producers and users about their work and needs. If you use adult social care information/statistics in your work and would like to provide your input regarding strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement, please get in touch with the regulation team.

Stage 3: Analysis – We will analyse the desk research and stakeholder engagement material to build a robust picture of the adult social care statistical landscape. We will particularly look at:

  • Coherence and compilation (including harmonisation) across statistics publications
  • Accessibility, clarity, and insight (including the commentary) of publications
  • Gaps and priorities
  • Transparency
  • Quality of key data sources
  • Opportunities for data linking
  • Best practice examples

We will also conduct compliance checks on several adult social care statistics where we think it would be beneficial.

Stage 4: Publication of Updates – We have spent the last few months talking to many of the people involved in producing and using adult social care statistics across all four countries in the UK. We are now sharing some of the feedback, along with our plans for what we will do next.

See the Regulation Blog, 5 February 2019

We have also produced high-level summary leaflets for each country:

Adult Social Care statistics: Winter 2018/19 update – Summary for England

Adult Social Care statistics: Winter 2018/19 update – Summary for Scotland

Adult Social Care statistics: Winter 2018/19 update – Summary for Wales

Adult Social Care statistics: Winter 2018/19 update – Summary for Northern Ireland

What we want to happen as a result

Adult social care statistics across the UK are coherent, harmonised, insightful and accessible and answer society’s important questions thus ensuring that decision-makers, policy officials and the public have the information they require.


Stage 1: Planning – June 2018

Stage 2: Research – July/August 2018

Stage 3: Analysis – October 2018-February 2019

Stage 4: Publication of outputs – February 2019-October 2019

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