Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care

Annemarie Naylor MBE is Director of Policy and Strategy at Future Care Capital.

How we care for ourselves and one another has changed considerably over the course of the past 75 years. And, yet, care is an area of life that we do not know or understand enough about statistically speaking. This has discernible implications for policy and practice, the lived experience of the paid and unpaid ‘careforce’ and, crucially, people in receipt of care themselves. In fact, the stakes could not be higher: we urgently need what we have elsewhere termed #datathatcares.

That is why, as a charity dedicated to advancing ideas that will help shape future health and social care policy to deliver better outcomes for society, Future Care Capital has established a programme of research to shed light on this increasingly important facet of modern life. Our hope is that it will continue to stimulate interest and much-needed investment in data and technology to bring about improvements to the quality of care that is provided and experienced by people living in the UK.

As such, we warmly welcome publication of Adult Social Care Statistics in England by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).

‘Fixing’ Social Care in England

OSR’s England-wide review of social care statistics is timely given the Prime Minister’s pledge on the steps of 10 Downing Street last Summer to ‘fix social care’. OSR’s report highlights the need for better leadership and collaboration across government departments, action to address key gaps in the data that is currently available to commissioners, providers and service-users as well as the need to improve existing official statistics.

If there is a grain of truth in the adage that ‘what gets measured, gets managed’, then, these are all critically important first steps that the Government must take if social care isn’t to remain a poor relation to its better-known (and funded) associate – the NHS.

In their review, OSR have echoed many of the findings and recommendations we have also made as a charity. More needs to be done to empower people to access the care services they require, support family members who find themselves in need of care and enable people to plan ahead to benefit from a high-quality experience of later life.

Social Care: The Next Generation

There is real scope to develop data-driven tools and technologies to support the next generation of social care services as our own prototyping work has made plain. Of course, OSR are right to call for the basics to be put in place first as well as for the proverbial ‘plumbing to be fixed’. Ultimately, the aim must be to deliver improved outcomes for individuals in receipt of care and, to do that, we should invest in and develop what amounts to critical infrastructure to enable 21st Century care services to evolve apace.