Adult care: Data barriers hamper council workforce planning

Data collection barriers are hampering councils’ efforts to ensure adult social care workforce plans are in line with their strategies to develop services, according to a report this week.

The research, by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Skills for Care, examined how far councils in England had got in developing so-called integrated local area workforce strategies (InLAWS), which the two bodies are seeking to promote.

These are designed to ensure workforce planning takes account of all adult care staff locally, not just those in councils, and is based on councils’ strategies to transform services in line with personalisation and demographic changes.

Workforce planning and commissioning traditionally split

In an interview with Community Care in April, workforce consultant Vic Citerella, who has been commissioned by Adass and Skills for Care to lead on InLAWS, said workforce planning had traditionally been divorced from commissioning.

He said: “When you look at the commissioning strategies you will find plans to change services and some detail about how money will be spent but you won’t find any thinking about how the workforce will change.”

The survey, answered by just under half of directors, found that while 92% had begun work on developing InLAWS, just 4% had implemented such strategies.

Data problems

Most of the difficulties faced by directors related to collecting data about service needs and the local workforce.

Sixty per cent of respondents cited the sheer volume of data as a barrier, while over three-quarters pointed to the complexity of bringing together data from a range of stakeholders – including councils, other social care employers and NHS agencies.

Seventy three per cent cited the lack of an integrated system for collecting information about local social care workforces as a barrier.

National minimum data set

The National Minimum Data Set for Social Care has been established by Skills for Care to provide a comprehensive picture of the workforce, by drawing together information from employers in all sectors.

While two-thirds found the data set fairly or very helpful, a quarter said they did not find it very helpful.

The InLAWS project team, established by Adass and Skills for Care, will be piloting the idea in a number of areas before producing guidance for councils.

This week’s report said the guidance would address the data concerns raised by the survey, including by showing how the national minimum data set can facilitate better data collection and “develop a clearer map of providers, employers and workers across local areas”.

Adass and Skills for Care to push InLAWS

It said Adass, Skills for Care and the Department of Health needed to do more to make the case for InLAWS, particularly in the context of the tightening of public spending over the coming years.

The report said: “We believe that increasing funding pressures and system reform will act as a significant driver for adoption of the InLAWS approach. We will be concentrating on showing how InLAWS can help make best use of existing resources.”

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