Experiences of social care in the health and care experience survey 2015/16: analysis of free-text comments

This analysis of 4,000 comments aims to widen understanding of the factors that affect people's experiences of social care.


"Do you have any other comments to make about the help, care or support that you receive?"

Analysis of the free-text social care comments in response to the above question from the Health and Care Experience Survey 2015/16 provides insight into the issues that shape people's social care experience. The wide ranging spread of comments illustrates both positive and negative experiences in relation to accessing support, having choice and control, the planning and delivery of services, and the subsequent influence on outcomes. The comments and quantitative analysis taken together provide a fuller picture of the issues that have an impact on service users and their families.

The quantitative analysis shows that people were most positive about being treated with respect, compassion and understanding. This was reflected in the free-text comments, with a focus on the relationships people have with social care workers. Many people received compassionate care and described the difference this made to their day to day lives. People were most negative about the coordination of services in the quantitative analysis, which again was echoed in free-text comments around service access, coordination and management, and delivery. These comments highlight the importance of partnership working between agencies, with clear communication across organisations as well as with service users.

Key messages

  • The comments reinforced the need for person-centred, outcomes-focused support plans, with people having choice and control over how and when support is provided, and by whom.
  • Clear and responsive communication at all stages of the social care process is key to good care and support. Greater communication and collaborative working is also required between agencies, and people who use services and their families to prevent fragmented care.
  • The comments provided a powerful and consistent message about the need for continuity of care. Responses emphasised the value of relationships and the importance of regular workers in building up trust and knowledge. People described receiving compassionate care, despite the challenges facing the social care workforce.
  • Good quality support can improve outcomes and wider quality of life. However, support must be adequately resourced and be responsive to individual needs. This can shape various outcomes including: independence, social connectedness, and recovery.
  • Formal support can help with the balance of care for unpaid carers and is important in enabling people to continue in their caring role and balance this with other activities.
  • Whilst there are methodological limitations in relation to the analysis of free-text comments, the findings of this report provide insight into the issues that have an impact on social care experience and what matter to them. The analysis of such data is, therefore, a useful contribution to the evidence base for improvement.


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