Have you heard about the National Minimum Dataset – Social Care?

As a project manager in the Workforce Intelligence Team at Skills for Care, I work with employers, explaining the benefits of registering for an NMDS-SC account and how they can use this data. I work closely with our Locality Managers based in 6 areas across England, supporting their work with social care employers, local authorities and other stakeholders.

We sometimes find the word “data” a bit off-putting, but hopefully after reading this blog you’ll understand more about the benefits of having an NMDS-SC account and how important your data is, in enabling the Department of Health and other policy makers and planners to have a full picture of social care.

What’s the NMDS-SC? It is an online collection of information about the adult social care workforce. It is the leading source of workforce intelligence for adult social care and holds information on around 23,000 establishments and 730,000 workers across England. Social care employers like yourselves input their data, by registering for an account, populating it with information about their establishment and their workers, and can then use this data in several ways, for example by comparing their establishment with others to answer questions such as:
• How do your rates of pay or vacancy rates compare with other providers?
• Are your staff better qualified than other providers?

How will it help me as an employer? Employers are using it to compare themselves with other care providers locally, regionally or nationally. For example, you might be able to say that your turnover rate is lower than average, or you have a higher percentage of trained staff – things that potential customers would be interested in and you can use in conversations with commissioners when you’re looking at new business opportunities. You can input information once and use it several times with CQC to help populate your Provider Information Return, and NHS Choices – crucial in the changing world of social care where customers can read reviews about CQC registered services such as those you provide. Please be assured – nothing personal is shared, just anonymised data from your NMDS-SC account. Once you set up an account you can access over 130 modules of e-learning for your staff as well as applying for Workforce Development Funding once you become eligible.

How can I understand the data? There are Dashboards for you on your account, which are an easy-to- use way of analysing your data, and the system does it all for you once you’ve set it up. It will identify issues around workforce planning, for example your sickness rates, the profile of your workers (age, gender), your vacancy and turnover rates, rates of pay and the qualifications your staff have. You can also look at information about the local population which will help you make business decisions about the services you provide or want to provide in future. The dashboards give you the information, interpret what it means and suggest resources which may be useful to you. They are easy to use and there is lots of guidance available to help you understand how to get the best from them.
Who uses the data? Being part of NMDS-SC is not only important for you in your business but it’s important to the whole sector. The Department of Health make decisions around funding and to do this effectively, they need the fullest picture possible. Did you know information about the impact of the new National Living Wage was given to your local authority using this data?

Data from the NMDS-SC is often used to answer written Parliamentary Questions; a question to the Secretary of State for Health (in October 2014) on “the number of workers on zero hours contracts and what proportion of such workers were women”. This question could not have been answered without detailed analysis by Skills for Care of the data submitted by social care providers to the NMDS-SC system. If you’re not using the NMDS-SC, your information isn’t being included.

Where do I start? Why not take 30 minutes to find out about how the NMDS-SC can support you in making good business decisions – whether it’s workforce planning, marketing your business, accessing funding or free e-learning or saving time in pulling information together for CQC or NHS Choices?
Our Support Team will be there to help you if you have any trouble with setting up or refreshing your NMDS-SC account. The best place to start is on the NMDS-SC site where you will find help and guidance, films and animations and an e-learning guide which will take you through it, step by step. The guides around the dashboards are also there.

To find out more about the Workforce Development Fund (funding from the Department of Health which is distributed by Skills for Care), take a look at our website or feel free to email me directly at Lee.Stribling@skillsforcare.org.uk
Lee Stribling, Project Manager Workforce Intelligence, Skills for Care