Caroline Jones writes on the engagement the Office for Statistics Regulation has undertaken with users of social care statistics across the UK.

Adult social care can affect and improve the lives of many people. Society has changed greatly over the last few decades so it is important to understand more about how social care is currently delivered and how this might need to change in the future. Central and local government, health and care services and other agencies can use statistics to steer policy decisions and ensure suitable budgets and workforce are in place to deliver the intervention needed at the right time. We want to support the innovations and improvements to data capture, analysis and dissemination that are already happening, so that the statistics reflect the lived experience of people using social care services.

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, as an update for those who spoke to us, and our next steps will be to investigate the issues raised and form our own judgement about the public value and quality of the statistics. For each country, we have produced high-level summaries about stakeholders’ concerns.

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

Stakeholders across the UK told us that they are grateful for the official statistics that are published, but in some cases, they fail to meet their needs. When we spoke to the people involved in producing the statistics, they recognised stakeholders’ concerns and told us about positive improvements that are underway, which we support.

The ultimate aim is for the statistics to be more timely, accessible and insightful. At the moment, the statistics can paint only a partial picture of what actually happens to people and there are limitations due to gaps in understanding of how activities should be comprehensively recorded to allow like for like comparisons. We are keen to support producers in their quest to provide statistics that reflect the experiences of social care users and inform public debate.

Over the next few months, in all four UK nations, we will be working with statistics producers and users to build on improvements to the statistics that are already underway. We will publish our findings and recommendations later in 2019, once we have reflected on and explored the feedback we have received. We will also publish the findings of compliance checks of social care statistics that we conducted as part of our review work.

In the meantime, we are happy to hear more and continue the conversation with anyone with an interest in adult social care statistics. Contact us: regulation@statistics.gov.uk

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