From Origins to Output
: Understanding Routinely Collected Social Care Data Processes and Management with Consideration to Health and Social Care Integration

  • Anne Canny

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Background: This thesis explores routine social care data collection and management processes resulting from the Scottish Government’s strategic vision for 2020 and the formal implementation of health and social care integration. Key to this strategy is the initiative to use routinely collected social care data to evaluate services and also to combine these data with health care information in order to inform service access, use comparison and future planning. In stark contrast to healthcare information, social care data has not been formally evaluated to date. This thesis addresses the disparity in knowledge and understanding between the two organisations. The overall aims were to build a comprehensive understanding of how social care data materialises; how data are collected, coded, shared and managed.

Method: A multiple-site ethnography incorporating semi-structured interviews, non-participation observation and supporting documentary analysis were used to capture routine practices of social care staff holistically and contextually from the perspective of the people themselves. Data were collected from 29 participants over an 18 month period then transcribed verbatim and uploaded to Nvivo© 11 software programme for coding, synthesising and data management. Analysis proceeded interpretively and in parallel with ongoing interviews and observations and was informed by drawing from the theoretical framework of actor-network theory and the sociology of the professions.

Findings: Field sites revealed a broad but common framework of legislated mandates which authorised staff to gather information, although local variations in forms and procedures were noted across regions. Analysis revealed 4 overarching themes of influence (Data processes, IT Systems, Organisational Systems, Inter/intra-professional relations). From these, some overlapping concepts were recognised as having a significant bearing on day to day operations and practices: Leadership/Management, Philosophies and Standardisation. This intricate blend of inter-related issues highlights the messiness and multi-dimensional measures at force in complex organisations such as health and social care. Conducted on the cusp of health and social care integration formally going live during 2016, this thesis provides a new body of knowledge to data processes and is one of the first of its kind to evaluate social care data in the UK – from origins to output. In consideration of findings from this study, there are consequences with regard to policies, procedures, education and training that could serve as further stimuli to aid direction to absolute integration.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsScottish Government & Economic and Social Research Council, UK
SupervisorSuzanne Grant (Supervisor), Thilo Kroll (Supervisor), Miles Witham (Supervisor) & Iain Atherton (Supervisor)


  • Social care
  • Health and social care integration
  • Data
  • Information processes

Cite this