Advanced Care Research Centre

Calls to strengthen use of Scottish care home data

A national framework for care home data should be developed in order to benefit residents and inform Scotland’s health and social care services, according to a new report.

The ‘GEAReD Up’ study examined how data about care home residents can currently be accessed and used.

The research proposes a series of practical steps to strengthen the data of care homes and ensure that the currently available data can be used by providers, researchers, policy makers and innovators to make improvements.


A call for a robust Scotland-wide framework is among eight recommendations in the final report, as well as a clear pathway for accessing, and seeking ethical and governance approval for re-use of data.

The research also recommends backing greater care home involvement in these solutions with more support and resources, while establishing better communication and coherence between local and national systems.

Increase innovation

The study, which has been presented to industry leaders and delivery partners, will also feed into a Scotland-wide Care Home Data Review, which is currently underway.

It suggests that an overseeing body and a more established process for systematic curation of routinely collected care home data would allow more effective reuse of data in research and innovation projects, and benefit care home residents and providers.

The study was led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC), Edinburgh Napier University and NHS Research Scotland.

Dr Susan D Shenkin, co-author of the report and Reader in Ageing and Health at the Usher Institute and Advanced Care Research Centre within the University of Edinburgh said: “This report builds on our work showing that a care home data platform must have strong foundations to ensure it meets the needs of care home residents, their families and the staff who care for them.

“This requires a clear understanding of how and why data are collected about the people who live in care homes."

Lucy Johnston, GEAReD Up lead and Senior Research Fellow at Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Health and Social Care, said: “Amid the prospect of a National Care Service, there is a real desire to understand and address the issues faced by the sector.

“Our work has helped to unravel some of problems relating to data and offer practical solutions for the management and accessibility of crucial information.

“It is so important to build these foundation blocks now – and this work can help play a part in enhancing the use of routinely collected care home data being used to support care decisions, improve services, inform research and increase data-driven innovation”.

Related links

Read the GEAReD Up report

Developing a care home data platform in Scotland: a mixed methods study of data routinely collected in care homes