Coronavirus (COVID-19): supporting people at higher risk - qualitative research

Findings from interviews with representatives of 16 local authorities across Scotland, exploring how they have been supporting people at higher risk during COVID-19.

Data collection and management

Data collection

The majority of LAs interviewed use a template developed by Scottish LAs for collecting data from Covid helpline callers[4], though some have made tweaks to reflect local customer needs and priorities. Local authorities have worked to build in the SG and COSLA requests for data where possible, updating call scripts and data management processes and systems.

Some felt it was unnecessary to collect all of the data requested or that it was not appropriate to ask certain questions of people at a time when they are anxious, particularly for those with vulnerabilities.

Data recording

Some local authorities had, in the early days, used a manual, paper-based system for recording callers' data and had subsequently transitioned these records to a management information system. Other LAs had set up their own spreadsheets or databases to input data and a number are still using these.

Many of the LAs discussed software they have been using during the crisis to manage the data around the helpline. A number mentioned commercially available data management systemsthey had been using or are planning to transition to. Among those who already used these, there were mixed views on their usefulness for evolving needs, including for reporting. Most noted the general importance of an effective data management system and, with the benefit of hindsight, some felt that they would have tried to get a better system in place more quickly.

Data reporting

Many LAs found the various data requests from SG burdensome and in need of streamlining. Some pointed out that it was not made sufficiently clear to them why the data was being requested and what it would be used for; and that when changes were made to requests, there was insufficient allowance for time lags required to update systems and processes – 'it was constantly changing at the beginning'.

SG collects some monitoring data from LAs on calls to their helplines and this was discussed in the interviews. However, LAs also raised concerns around other data that may have been requested by other parts of SG or other organisations such as COSLA. Generally it was felt that better joined up working between both SG and COSLA on data requests would be useful.



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