Launching Care Data Futures in Scotland

We’re delighted to announce that we are continuing and expanding our work on responsible technology for social care through a partnership with Nesta and the Scottish Government’s Data Dialogues Programme.

The programme is a year-long dialogue with Scottish citizens to better understand their opinions and ideas for the use and sharing of health and care data, and to explore alternative or possible futures together that benefit all. Five organisations (including us!) will be using different creative and participatory methods to explore different aspects of health and social care data in Scotland.

We covered the challenges of data in social care in England in our 2019 Better Evidence for Better Care report. We found that too often the data that is collected doesn’t reflect what really mattered to people, collecting data is difficult and slow, and the databases produced are too low quality, gappy, and inaccessible to actually use. This work (and the 2020 Statistics Authority’s report on Adult Social Care statistics which goes into the issue in a lot more depth) was based in England, but our preliminary interviews with Scottish practitioners have already found a lot of shared experiences.

So we’re going back to the future

In creative and accessible workshops we will first talk about what’s happening now, before imagining and designing a better care future. We will then think about the changes we could make now that would help us get to that ideal world. 

This time we’re focusing on how data shapes how services are designed and delivered. So in our workshops we will design new ways to work with social care data and consider the impact that might have throughout the whole system. 

These workshops will take place in Glasgow and Aberdeen in the first week of April. See below for contact details if you’d like to attend.

We might look into the surveillance of people who receive social care services – already people have their social media presence monitored, supermarkets share footage with the DWP, direct payments are monitored. Will the pressure continue? What changes would be needed for data to be used to improve services rather than cut them? Some might be creative – could an AI measure your happiness? Others might be more structural – could managing care budgets over decades incentivise long term thinking and investment in prevention? 

After the workshops, we’re going to turn the ideas into speculative designs and use those to support a creative, accessible debate about care data. This will travel around Scotland and to some UK-wide events. 

We’re extremely excited to get to engage with social care in Scotland. There are significant differences from England’s system – social care is integrated with healthcare, free for over 65s, and social care professionals are registered.

But many challenges are the same.

Our populations are aging rapidly and unequally, we face rising costs, workforce shortages, and still too much reliance on paper records or outmoded technologies. The design of technologies is coloured by ageism and ableism and by lack of respect for the skills of those on the front line. Data too often serves commissioners’ performance objectives rather than the people who use care services, who care, or the communities they are part of.

If you are interested in connecting, discussing social care data in Scotland, want to attend the workshops or discuss and display our speculative designs at your event please get in touch on [email protected].