Developing a Social Care Strengths and Vulnerability Index (SC-SVI) for older people: a Proof-of-Concept study in local authorities

Paul Clarkson In progress  


Being independent and managing well are important to older citizens and local authority social care organisations have a duty to actively encourage this. They try to do this by assessing the possibilities of harms to older people’s well-being and assets they have to overcome them. They then work out how these could be lessened by arranging services or professional help, keeping in mind older people’s wishes, choices and their own strengths. This is not always easy. Older people can under-report difficulties. Social care organisations may not pick up on older people’s circumstances that let them know in advance whether there might be threats to their wellbeing. Local authorities collect a lot of data: through early contacts with older people, social workers’ assessments and when they review the care they provide. But often this is not put to good use to judge potential future needs or risks. Data routinely collected by local authorities offers the potential of judging these threats to well-being, or picking up on strengths of older people that could lessen these threats.


This project aims to discover if data routinely held by local authority social care organisations, could be used to help identify older people’s needs and potentially judge future threats to their well-being. We will analyse data in Greater Manchester to test out the practicality of creating an electronic tool, from the data, that will offer a potential way to help organisations, and professionals working in them, better judge the needs of older people. It is intended that this will assist  in planning more appropriate care around older people’s circumstances, resources and strengths.


• Test out designing the tool through analysing large data sets in three local authorities, by working with social care staff and advisors, including older people receiving social care.
• Test how acceptable the tool would be to staff and older users by interviewing them and looking at their views and any challenges they can foresee.
• Look at how the tool might work and its uses to social care professionals in predicting future needs. Working with local authorities, we will find out the ways the tool could help with assessments or in planning future care.
• See if the tool can be held within local authority information systems and whether we would need additional data to make it work better.

The project will work with groups of older people and users of evidence in social care organisations to publicise the findings on design and potential uses of the tool and make it, and information about it, available openly online. Older people with lived experience of services will work with the project team to highlight the issues, positive and negative, of possibly using data in this way and engage managers in the issues involved and what the benefits could be. The learning from the project and the tool itself will be available to social care organisations across England to help them fulfil their responsibilities better.