An old folk tale about health and social care data

26 February 2018


Many of the stories that were read to me as a youngster had meaning or morals. One that resonates with me now as I work with health and social care data is Stone Soup: an old folk story about a traveller who convinces the inhabitants of a village that he can make soup from a single stone.

Of course, he can’t. But what he facilitates is the bringing together of whatever the individual villagers have, to make a single, rich source of nourishment for all the villagers to share and enjoy.

The parallel to health and social care data is, most probably, an obvious one: the different data sets created and held by a vast variety of organisations is more powerful when it is combined and shared – the sum being greater than the individual parts.

Take an example from social care teams creating hugely rich data sets from using a resource allocation system (RAS) to estimate personal budgets. Through its use, all kinds of data are collected about people’s health and social care needs, including:

  • the level of support needed to keep an individual safe;
  • a person’s independence, such as how much a family member or friend helps around the home;
  • the estimated personal budget and a breakdown of hours; and
  • eligibility summaries and predictions.