Adult social care: investment needed in local efforts to deliver contemporary data-driven models of care

The latest research report from Future Care Capital explores the challenges local authorities face in planning for our ageing population ahead of the Government’s forthcoming adult social care Green Paper.

National policy is currently underpinned by publicly available data that reflects an increasingly outdated view of adult social care. The Government needs to invest in local efforts to deliver contemporary data-driven models of care.

National health and care charity, Future Care Capital (FCC), has published a research report ‘Facilitating Care Insight to Develop Caring Economies’ in partnership with Cambridge Econometrics, a leader in data analysis and economic modelling, which explores the risks and opportunities different parts of the country face in planning and managing adult social care provision.

Four local authorities worked with the charity to discuss the particular challenges they are grappling with at the local level: Brighton and Hove City Council, Essex County Council, Leeds City Council and Nottingham City Council.

The research found that local areas are underpinned by different ‘care infrastructures’ that result in broad-ranging challenges as well as opportunities to transform outcomes for individuals.

National social care policy needs to better acknowledge local differences if it is to result in tangible improvements to the quality of life people experience.

Meanwhile, Councils need a much better understanding of when and how people interact with the wider care ecosystem if they are to meet the future needs of the populations they serve – notwithstanding the challenge of assembling data and evidence for contemporary, person-centred approaches.

FCC makes a number of recommendations that are designed to help tackle the difficulties councils face in preparing to provide adult social care services in the future, including:

  • Improved transparency – The Government should publish an impact assessment with its forthcoming adult social care green paper detailing the implications of any proposals to raise new funds for adult social care and/or alter local government funding formulae for different parts of the country – both in the interests of transparency and to better support social care commissioners and providers to plan ahead.
  • Investment in data collection, analysis and appraisal – The Government should support commissioners, providers and innovators to solicit a better understanding of when and how individuals interact with the wider care ecosystem and invest in a new national data analytic capability to improve care insight for commissioners, providers and business to support the appraisal as well as product/service design activities needed to expedite the introduction of new care models.
  • Support for data-driven innovation in social care – The Government and pertinent funding councils should invest in partnerships between councils, universities and business to explore the potential for new technologies and data science techniques – including machine learning and artificial intelligence – to support the evolution of next generation care services and insight.
  • Acknowledging the wider socio-economic determinants of care – The range of Government departments should be required to publish details of the ways in which their policies and investment decisions align with and/or contribute to the development of caring economies to ensure that they are designed to positively impact local care infrastructures.

The report also highlights the wider socio-economic determinants of care because state-funded adult social care services are but one element of a wider ‘care ecosystem’. As such, it makes a case for the range of Government departments to be required to recognise the impact that their policies and investment decisions have upon local care infrastructures.

Annemarie Naylor MBE, Director of Policy and Strategy at Future Care Capital, said:

“National policy makers need to understand the demographic changes underway in local communities far better than they do now. Our report offers practical recommendations to help central and local government be better prepared to manage the challenges and opportunities our longevity presents. I hope that the forthcoming adult social care Green Paper resists the temptation to suggest that a one-size-fits-all model represents a workable way forward and, instead, recognises the opportunities and challenges that will flow from local variations as different populations age.”

“Care cannot and should not be left to formal service commissioners and providers working in isolation to accommodate demographic change. When central and local government talk of national planning policy and local plans to deliver the housing stock we need, for example, they must take steps to ensure that new communities are designed for age and mobility and examine what policy levers they might introduce to expedite material adaptations to homes and communities to facilitate independent living. And, when Ministers enthuse about 5G pilots, driverless cars and ‘smart cities’, they need to be mindful that they are planning and developing the digital, transport and safeguarding infrastructure upon which future models of care might rely. Care is a responsibility we all share, and to realise this, we need a new Care Covenant or renewed settlement involving everyone in our society.”

Chris Thoung, Project Manager at Cambridge Econometrics, said:

“Our research shows wide variation in care and socioeconomic circumstances among local areas. This diversity points to quite different risks and opportunities across the country in the face of looming demographic change. How councils make use of their specific local assets matter greatly.”

“However, we must also be mindful about what we currently do not know about care ecosystems. Evidence gaps remain, presenting a continued challenge for decisionmakers and analysts. This is especially the case as service models continue to evolve. How we assemble and act on the evidence base must evolve accordingly.”

Read the press release on the Future Care Capital website, here.

Read the executive summary of the report, here:

Executive Summary – Facilitating Care Insight to Develop Caring Economies

Read the full report, here:

Full Report – Facilitating Care Insight to Develop Caring Economies