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 2019-20 and 2020-21 Carers Census returns. Some data providers were still implementing new systems to collect and record the required data during the collection period. As a result, there are a number of data quality issues that have been identified which we hope to improve upon for future publications. Care 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 around 70% of data providers, but not all areas were equally represented. For instance, some areas have data from multiple services whereas others have data from either statutory social work or from the third sector.
- Information could not always be returned on all of the carers who met the criteria for inclusion in the Carers Census since the 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, gender and datazone were missing for nearly a fifth 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).
These issues are mainly due to lack of available data and the fact that it is taking time for providers to implement 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 develop further. 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 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 SWStat@gov.scot.
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