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P71 Exploring the feasibility of a national dataset of homecare users: findings from a survey of UK homecare providers
  1. Jan Healey1,
  2. Vanessa Davey2,
  3. Jennifer Liddle2,
  4. Gareth O’Rourke1,
  5. Bryony Beresford1,
  6. Barbara Hanratty2
  1. 1Social Policy Research Unit, University of York, York, UK
  2. 2Population Health Sciences Institute, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK


Background In England, over 8000 registered homecare agencies are providing support to almost a million older people. However, the absence of a national dataset of homecare users means we know little about the characteristics this population, the care they receive and their care journeys. This is a significant obstacle to policy making, commissioning, research, and service development and innovation. The government’s programme to digitalise social care presents an opportunity to address this. However, with regards to homecare, there are particular challenges the sector faces in terms of digitalisation and securing buy-in to a national dataset. This paper concerns one component of a study investigating the feasibility and acceptability of a minimum dataset (MDS) for homecare. The objective was to describe current data management practices among homecare providers and their views on a national dataset of homecare users.

Methods An on-line, cross-sectional survey of UK homecare providers collected information on: data collection and data management systems and practices, information routinely collected about clients/regularity of reviews, and views on contributing to a national dataset. National homecare organisations publicised the survey, as did the research team via existing research networks, homecare publications, and social media. Data was collected late autumn 2022.

Results Respondents (n=159) represented the range of size and type of UK homecare providers. Half of respondents reported all/most client information was held in digital format, but one in twenty reported their records were ‘predominantly paper-based’. Across respondents, over 50 different types of care software were being used with multiple problems reported including cost, lack of inter-operability, and updating requirements. Digital data was under-utilised in terms of understanding clients’ needs and outcomes. Information not directly relevant to the provision of the homecare package (e.g. health care being received) was less likely to be part of routine data collection. Use of standardised outcomes measures was highly unusual. The majority supported the idea of a national dataset of homecare users and most also indicated they would be willing, or would consider, contributing to it. However, a wide range of barriers to this were also described.

Conclusion A diversity in data management systems and practices exists among homecare providers with implications for capacity and readiness for digitalisation. There was strong support for a national dataset of homecare users. However, support and incentives will be needed to secure collection of data beyond that needed to provide homecare, and to ensure homecare providers have the systems and capacity to contribute to such a dataset.

  • homecare
  • national dataset
  • digitalisation

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