Work Package 5: Testing a Minimum Data Set in Care Homes in England

If your care home or your resident relative/friend has been invited to take part in the DACHA pilot, you can aceess the frequently asked questions about the study via this link:


The NIHR-funded DACHA project is a four-year study led by Professor Claire Goodman at the University of Hertfordshire. The aim is to explore and enhance how resident quality of life and care data are shared between health and social care organisations working with care homes, in a way that benefits all. There are five, linked streams of work and each has its own research summary. This summary is about the fifth and final project, led by Professor Adam Gordon at the University of Nottingham and Ann-Marie Towers at the University of Kent.

This study

This part of the DACHA study builds on the work undertaken in the first two years. In this final part, we ask:

  1. Can we collect some data directly from care homes and then match this to data already being collected about residents in health and social care?
  2. What is the quality of the data we collect?
  3. How can the data be used to provide better, joined up health and social care for residents?
  4. What do we need to consider to enable wider roll out of a minimum data set for care homes in England?

Why findings important …

The findings have the potential to deliver a step-change in how we understand the needs of the care home population.  This could be a resource to avoid unnecessary duplication by researchers, but also, those interested in quality improvement in care homes across the country.


Professor Adam Gordon, University of Nottingham:

Ann-Marie Towers, Reader in Social Care, University of Kent:

WP5 leads are Professor Adam Gordon at University of Nottingham and Ann-Marie Towers at University of Kent.

This final work package builds on previous work by conducting a pilot of the minimum data set (MDS) to assess its acceptability, feasibility, psychometric properties and utility to health and social care.

Aims and Objectives

WP5 will:

  1. Assess the feasibility of collecting data directly from care homes and matching this to routinely collected health and social care data to populate a complete MDS;
  2. Assess the quality of the MDS data, comprising care home-collected data alongside routine service data, to create a MDS with the minimum number of scales/attributes required;
  3. Evaluate the utility of the matched MDS data to stakeholders (ICSs, CCGs, local authorities, providers and residents and their families);
  4. Systematically assess potential barriers and facilitators to wider implementation of the MDS,

Study Design

The content of the MDS and a process for collecting data directly from homes will already have been agreed as part of work packages one to four. Ethical approval will be sought for the study from the Health Research Authority and the study will comply with the Mental Capacity Act (2005) to enable the inclusion of all residents, regardless of their capacity to consent.

A mixed-methods longitudinal pilot of the MDS will be conducted in 20 care homes for older people in three integrated care system (ICS) sites in England – Surrey Heartlands, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire, and North East & North Cumbria – (60 homes altogether). Altogether, we aim to recruit around 900 care home residents to the pilot study. Participating homes will be stratified by size and type of home (nursing or residential). All long-stay/permanent resident will be eligible to take part.

Care staff will be trained by the research team to complete the care home component of the MDS at two points in time: baseline and 6 months. This data will be manually linked by the research team, using relevant identifiers (e.g. NHS number), to routinely held NHS Health and Social Care data. We will also collect important home-level data, such as size, registration category, CQC rating, type of provider, proportion of self-funders. After each wave of data collection, homes will receive feedback on their data benchmarked against other participating homes.

Focus groups with care staff and interviews with key stakeholders will establish the acceptability of the MDS and its perceived utility to health and social care.

Quantitative Data Analysis

Psychometric testing will explore the quality of the data collected and the measurement properties of the MDS. Regressions analysis will be used to consider the influence of baseline characteristics on completion rates. To explore the utility of the MDS, we will work with the three ICS sites to identify local, priority research questions and then use the MDS to try and answer these. Appropriate quantitative and econometric techniques will be used to analyse the data and exploit the longitudinal design.

Research Partners