Carers Census: results 2018 to 2019

First publication of results from the Carers Census, covering unpaid carers being supported by local services across Scotland in 2018 to 2019.

This document is part of a collection

5. Background Information

5.1 Data Quality

As mentioned in Section 1.1 of this publication, the figures presented in this report are taken from the second six-months of Carers Census returns. Many data providers were still in the midst of designing new systems to collect and record the required data at the time when data was due to be submitted to Scottish Government. As a result, there are a number of data quality issues that have been identified which we hope to improve upon for future publications. Caution should be taken when interpreting the results included in this report.

The main data quality issues identified are:

  • There are gaps in coverage across Scotland. Data returns were received from over 80% of data providers, but there were certain areas such as East Ayrshire where no returns were received.
  • Information could not be returned on all carers who met the criteria for inclusion in the Carers Census as data was not always available. Therefore, the figures presented in this report will be an undercount of the true number of carers being supported by local services.
  • The completeness of the returns received varied widely. Some providers were only able to return more basic information such as demographic variables due to lack of data availability. Therefore, some of the analysis presented in this publication (mainly in Sections 3.3 and 3.4) is based on a smaller number of carers for whom information was available.
  • Identifiers such as date of birth and datazone were missing for 15% of the records submitted. As a result, these records were removed through the de-duplication process and so not included in the final analysis (See Section 2 for more information).
  • Some of the returns received only covered the second half of 2018/19 rather than the full year. This will mean that the figures presented in this report will be an undercount of the true number of carers being supported by local services.

These issues are mainly due to lack of available data and the fact that it is taking time for providers to develop systems to accurately collect and record the required information following a significant change in practice. It is expected that these issues will improve as time goes on and systems are put in place. In the meantime, we will continue to work with data providers to continue to improve the quality of the data.

5.2 Future Improvements

As well as improving the general data quality, we have also identified other improvements that we plan to implement for future publications. These include the proposed improvements set out below:

  • For future publications, we intend for the de-duplication process to be carried out by National Records of Scotland who will be able to link the Carers Census data to Scotland’s population spine. The population spine contains the personal identifiers of everyone in the Scottish Census and should allow us to obtain an accurate number of individual carers being supported by local services in Scotland. However, this will be dependent on accurate identifiers being submitted for each carer.
  • As data quality improves, we will be able to include more in-depth analysis in future publications. This could include breakdowns of variables such as carers’ support needs by the main client group of the cared for person as well as an expanded Cared For Person section.
  • As data quality improves, we expect to be able to include local area breakdowns in future publications in order to look at the differences in how the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 has been implemented across Scotland.

We would welcome any feedback on this report in order to help us improve future publications. If you have any comments or suggestions, please e-mail



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