The Scottish Government contracted Quality Health Ltd to administer the survey. Quality Health Ltd has in-depth experience of NHS surveys, and has provided support for other care experience survey work both in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. ISD Scotland provided support for the administration of the survey along with Scottish Government analytical staff.
The fieldwork began on 8 November 2017. In total, 611,638 letters and information sheets were posted out in batches between 8 to 13 November 2017. These initial letters asked respondents to complete the survey online, but also included a helpline number.
Reminder letters, this time including a paper version of the questionnaire, were sent out from 22 November 2017.
Survey Helpline Calls
During the fieldwork a telephone helpline answered queries from people surveyed. In total, 10,305 telephone enquiry calls were answered by the telephone and language line. This was a substantial increase in the number received in 2015/16 (which was 1,500), largely because of the change to promoting the online survey in the initial contact letter. Calls fell into the broad categories shown in Table 5.
Table 5: Number of calls to the survey helpline, by main reason for the call
|Main reason for call||Number of calls|
|Help to complete the survey online||4,194|
|To say someone had moved house||134|
|To say someone had died||36|
|To decline to take part||597|
|Person sampled is ineligible||25|
People who were recently deceased
The people included in the 2017/18 survey were sampled from an extract taken from the CHI database on 19 October 2017. The sampling, questionnaire printing and mail-out process extended from this date through to the final mailing date of 4 December 2017. This meant that some people would have died between the extract date and mail out dates.
As with all Care Experience surveys, every possible effort was made by Quality Health Ltd, ISD and the Scottish Government to avoid questionnaires being sent to family members of people who had died. Therefore, in the same way to previous surveys, a list of people included in the initial sample was checked against the National Records of Scotland death register to identify people who had recently died and remove them from the sample.
The list of people sampled for the survey was shared with Atos Origin Alliance (who host the CHI database) and the NHS Central Register (NHS CR). This allowed NHS CR to check on a daily basis for people who had died and send notifications to ISD throughout the mail-out period. ISD subsequently passed this information on to Quality Health Ltd, who removed survey packs as required prior to mailout. Having access to information about recent deaths greatly reduced the number of questionnaires being sent to addresses of people who had died. We are grateful to NHS CR and Atos Origin Alliance for their help and support during this stage of the project.
Between the CHI and NHS CR databases, a total of 1,686 records included in the initial survey sample were flagged as deceased between the time the 19 October 2017 CHI extract was taken and the final mail out date on 4 December 2017. All of these deceased records were removed prior to mailing questionnaire to people. In a further 36 cases a questionnaire was sent to someone who had died shortly after the death checks had been made and the person’s family contacted Quality Health Ltd to notify them of this.
Any death which occurs in Scotland must be registered within eight days of the date of death. This means that there can be a delay between the actual date of death and the date that it is registered and updated on the CHI and NRS databases.
This delay, combined with the volume of the mail out process, made it extremely difficult to prevent all questionnaires being sent to addresses of people who had died. However, as outlined above, efforts were made to avoid this as much as possible.