A Study of Data Continuity in Adult Social Care Services

Sarunkorn Chotvijit*, Malkiat Thiarai, Stephen A. Jarvis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Financial challenges in adult social care services are a considerable concern for UK government. With an ageing population, UK local authorities were reported to have spent £168 million more than budgeted in 2015-16 and had struggled to maintain care quality and manage unprecedented demand. We report on the assessment process employed in adult social care in Birmingham, the UK's second largest city, and use data-analytic methods to examine the flow and continuity of data from referral, through the assessment process, to the resulting service provision. We identify the decision-making points and the data recorded for service users throughout the workflow. Data are derived from the local government social care system in Birmingham and span 2013-16. Findings highlight the complexity of the social care system, the fragmentation of the data and the discontinuity of data flow within the system. This data analysis resulted from a two-year study commissioned by Birmingham City Council as part of the 'case for change' following several poor Ofsted reports. Our commission was to understand what could be ascertained from a data-led investigation, independently of how the data were collected and used. This research establishes the foundation for service improvement and potential resource savings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-786
Number of pages25
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The lead author gratefully acknowledges funding support by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the Centre for Doctoral Training in Urban Science and Progress under Grant number EP/L016400/1. The authors also thank Birmingham City Council for providing support and data access for this research.

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under Grant number EP/ L016400/1.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers.


  • Assessment
  • data analysis
  • local government
  • service users
  • social care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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