Development of ASCOT

Click here to go to ASCOT website

Strand 1. Supporting the use of ASCOT

The ASCOT website was launched in June 2010 and since the beginning of the contract QORU has provided ongoing support for its use and fed in developments as they have emerged. The work has attracted considerable interest. We provide annual workshops on ASCOT in both the north and south of England, and have provided training for over 70 organisations and individuals wanting to use the care homes version, which includes observation techniques. The feedback from the workshops and training has generated the hypothesis that the process of feeding back qualitative and quantitative information based on the ASCOT data collected changes the focus of care workers, resulting in improved quality of care and outcomes for residents. We are currently conducting a pilot study funded through the NIHR School for Social Care Research to test this.

The potential for encouraging and reflecting improvements in practice has been recognised by Skills for Care & Development, which commissioned further work to develop a toolkit or evaluation model for care homes to use in improving practice through investment in and support of the workforce. We are aware of at least 25 organisations that have used ASCOT, and currently have 380 registered users of the website. Councils have expressed interest in integrating the measure into their assessment process, with the aim of capturing people’s perspectives on their lives and how these have changed as a result of the support provided. The structure and basis of the measure (for example, domains of quality of life used) have fed into quality assurance procedures by both councils as commissioners and independent providers of services.

In addition, there has been interest in using the measure in economic evaluation both nationally and internationally. ASCOT has been translated into Finnish and Dutch, and used in studies of home care in both Finland and the Netherlands. A version has been developed for the Austrian Home Visits and Counselling Programme. The care homes version has been used in a government-funded study in Denmark, which has informed Danish care home policy.

Aims

The aims of the project are to support the use of ASCOT by a variety of users, including local councils, social care providers and researchers. Specifically, the intention is to:

  • Develop and support a website which provides a variety of methods for establishing outcomes of social care
  • Identify priorities for future developments
  • Promote and monitor the use of ASCOT nationally and internationally>
  • Seek opportunities to further test the validity and reliability of the ASCOT measure
  • Build up a body of knowledge and understanding that facilitates use and value of the measure
  • Feed into other projects that are using ASCOT
  • Respond flexibly to emerging needs
  • Develop approaches to support the wider applicability of outcome‐focused approaches to provision and quality assurance

The benefits of having a large evidence base about the impact of social care built up using a common outcome measure are clear, enabling more reliable and systematic synthesis of the research in informing social care policy.

Where relevant we will consider the contributions of the ASCOT in the context of other approaches/indicators, such as personal outcomes or the ICECAP capability measure.
Our main activities will be to continue to provide training, workshops and online problem-based support for people using the outcome measure, as well as tools to support analysis of data using ASCOT. We will also undertake further refinement of the toolkit, development of new tools to widen applicability, and upgrade the supporting documentation and ASCOT material on the website as necessary following refinements.

This work will also link with the further development of the care home ASCOT measure, a project currently funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research.

Timing and outputs

There is a largely continuous but low-level input to this work stream over the course of the Unit. The outputs are primarily indirect: training researchers and supporting other research projects using ASCOT to produce evidence about the effectiveness of social care intervention. The website development will provide support for councils and others in using and interpreting the measure and associated measures that are collected as part of the Adult Social Care Survey and form part of the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework. This forms a means of disseminating and maximising the impact of work conducted under the Engagement and Application themes.