Methodology

 

Methodology for creating workforce estimates

We estimate the size, structure and characteristics of the adult social care workforce in England, annually.

Good quality information about the adult social care workforce is vital to help improve the planning and quality of social care services, which will improve outcomes for people who use these services, both now and in the future.

 

Overview of our methodology

  • We use data collected by the ASC-WDS to create workforce models that, in turn, allow for estimates of the whole adult social care workforce to be produced.
  • Our methodology allows the analysis to be representative of all adult social care workers, even if the ASC-WDS has uneven levels of data coverage.
  • All data is validated at source and has been through rigorous data quality checks before analysis.
  • Skills for Care has confidence in the quality of these estimates; the methodologies used have been peer reviewed by universities and an independent statistician.

 

Details of our methodology 

The ASC-WDS collects information about the adult social care sector and workforce. It's structured into two parts;

The workplace

  • employment type, e.g. local authority, private or voluntary/charity
  • main and other care services provided, e.g. residential care with or without nursing or domiciliary care (36 service types in total)
  • geographical location
  • CQC registration information
  • care and support needs supported e.g. dementia care, learning disabilities (23 options)
  • new starters, staff leavers and vacancy information.

The workforce

  • main and any other job roles of workers (29 job role options)
  • contract type, e.g. permanent, temporary or agency
  • demographics e.g. gender, age, disability status, ethnicity and nationality
  • employment information e.g. zero-hours contracts, contracted or average hours sickness rates
  • experience in sector and role, and source of recruitment
  • pay rate
  • qualification and training information, care certificate and apprenticeship training
  • reasons for leaving.

Approximately half of the workforce are recorded in the ASC-WDS. This coverage varies by care service, job role and geographical area.

Local authorities (adult social services departments)

The Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set is the adult workforce data return for local authorities. In 2021, for the ninth year in a row. all 151 local authorities in England met the criteria of a full return for people working in their adult social services departments. This means we have data from every local authority with an adult social services department in England.

CQC regulated services

  • Skills for Care estimates that there were 39,000 care establishments providing or organising adult social care in England in 2020/21, around 25,600 of these services were CQC regulated. 

  • In 2021, the ASC-WDS (NMDS-SC) had just under half coverage of all CQC regulated social care establishments.
  • These CQC regulated establishments had completed around 482,000 worker records between them (out of a total population of around 1.15 million workers employed by CQC regulated employers).

A sample of this size provides a solid basis for creating reliable and precise analysis about the adult social care workforce at both a national and local level.

We use data collected by the ASC-WDS to create workforce models that, in turn, allow for estimates of the whole adult social care workforce to be produced.

To do this, we make estimates of workforce characteristics (e.g. demographics, pay rates, employment statuses) for each geographical area, service type, employer type and job role combination that we report by.

These estimates are then ‘weighted’ according to coverage/completeness of the sector in each of the above areas. For example, an area with 50% coverage would use more weighted data in the final analysis than an area with 90% coverage. Using this methodology allows for the analysis to be representative of all adult social care workers even if the NMDS-SC has uneven levels of data coverage.

Skills for Care is confident in the quality of these estimates and the methodologies used have been peer reviewed by universities and an independent statistician. 

Every effort is made to ensure that information derived from the ASC-WDS is reliable.

  • In 2021, the ASC-WDS (previously knows as NMDS-SC) had around half coverage of all CQC regulated social care establishments.
  • Over 80% of employers updated their data in the past 12 months.
  • All data is validated at source and has been through rigorous data quality checks during the analysis.

 

Suppression and rounding for ASC-WDS publications

Coverage of the independent sector was estimated at 45% so the rounding reflects the degree of estimation. The local authority sector requires less rounding as the ASC-WDS has 100% coverage of the workforce.

The following rounding rules have been applied to the ASC-WDS weighted workforce estimates.

suppression

  • We suppress information if there are less than 10 jobs within any group. In some cases, for example when showing pay rates, suppression is used if there are less than 25 jobs in a group.
  • The rules are applied after any calculations (sums, averages, percentages etc.). This sometimes means numbers in tables may appear not to add up.

 Rationale for rounding and suppressing data

  • Rounding and suppression reduces the risk of identifying individuals from published figures. Even when the data contains no personally identifiable information.
  • Rounding of all figures to the nearest (see table above) prevents multiple tables being used to identify small numbers.
  • Percentages are suppressed for small groups to prevent percentages from giving away the real un-rounded figures in a table.
  • Percentages are displayed to zero decimal places unless there is a good statistical reason for using more precision.
  • Suppression reduced the risk of decisions being based on small sample sizes.

 

Our workforce estimates, publications and interactive visualisations

Our workforce estimates are used to produce national, regional and local area reports about the adult social care sector and workforce. We also publish reports about key workforce topics and interactive visualisations.

 

Requesting raw data

Read more about requesting raw analysis files in SPSS or CSV here.

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