Laying the foundation for digital transformation in Social Care UK

Laying the foundation for digital transformation in Social Care UK
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This article focuses on Digital Social Care UK’s partnership with MetadataWorks to unify data standards in the UK’s social care sector.

Laying the foundation for digital transformation in Social Care UK

Organisation: Digital Social Care UK



A lack of a standardised approach to managing social care data in the UK poses significant challenges as key information about a person’s care cannot be shared between providers, commissioners, and national bodies. Without a standardised way of sharing information, different care providers and organisations use their own proprietary data formats, making it difficult to exchange information efficiently and securely. With over 17,000 independent organisations in the sector, a lack of standardisation has magnified the challenge and resulted in duplicated efforts and inefficiencies in care coordination which compromises the quality of care for individuals and makes it difficult to generate meaningful insights about social care at a national level.


Within 16 weeks, Metadataworks mapped the UK social care data landscape, creating a repository of the key national social care collections, data standards and terminologies and mapped them to a centralized glossary. They implement a consolidated tool for standards dissemination, alongside a glossary and metadata catalogue – all of which are openly available and easily accessible via an intuitive web interface

Information box:

Digitalsocialcare project in numbers

24 standards, 

24,919 data concepts

381 glossary definitions

42,489 mappings

Quote: Alison Taylor

Never even dreamed that this stuff could happen, and I have been wanting interoperability for 20 years. I Didn’t really understand how much work there is to be done. This is just the start of social care interoperability.”



Digital Social Care UK is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care to support the digital transformation of the social care sector in the UK. They bring together a community of stakeholders across the system and support adult social care providers, commissioners, carers and professionals to improve the quality of care through evidence-based decision-making. They identified that the foundations for digital transformation in the sector did not exist due to a lack of standardisation and fragmented data practices. Disparate data collection practices and lack of standards also lead to excessive workloads, limited insights, and caused suboptimal care. 

The Department of Health and Social Care, in partnership with Digital Social Care UK and NHSE engaged MetadataWorks as part of a strategic initiative to create a consolidated and harmonized metadata management system that would enable digital transformation in adult social care through the dissemination of standards and best practice. The end goal is to reduce the burden of data submission on caregivers, drive high-quality research, and improve the quality of care. 

The Challenge

Even before introducing any technology, the fundamental challenge was a lack of visibility of the data landscape, inconsistent data management practices, fragmented technology and practices and lack of standards. There was no central record as to what data was being collected, who was collecting it and what standards were used. 

Furthermore, social care information gathering is plagued by inconsistent terminology. In part, this is due to the thousands of organisations collecting and reporting social care data, as well as multiple commissioning organizations data demanding different data submissions. The same term can mean different things to different people, creating a problem both in care and in research.

Finally, there is no single social care database. Data is distributed between different organizations with separate data governance and different technologies.

The Solution 

It was clear that the data inconsistencies, the technology fragmentation and lack of uniform standards, technology on itself was not enough and a significant cross organisanitional harmonization and process project is needed. 

Together with Digital Social Care UK, we adopted a phased approach to the project. Phase I was dedicated to laying the foundations: developing a social care standards baseline and implementing technology that will facilitate its dissemination and implementation. 

Project outline

Metadatworks allocated a project team of data and social care experts to execute the project based on the following elements: discovery and harmonization, standard development, and metadata catalogue publication. 


Gathering of the various datasets, standards, and terminologies used across the digital care landscape, and mapping them into a central, harmonized glossary. 

During this phase, MetadatWorks leveraged its metadata catalogue solution which is instrumental in streamlining the uploading process and simplifies mapping and facilitates collaboration. Automated mapping of similarities across attributes allows the identification and mapping of duplications and terminology discrepancies.

Standards Development: 

Harmonized the existing standards and developed a conceptual data model: a blueprint and roadmap for further standards development. facilitating seamless data exchange and collaboration.

Standards implementation and dissemination:

Throughout the first phase, the project team leveraged the Metadata Catalogue to document, map and collaborate on data management and governance. At the end of the first phase, the central catalogue including the Data Finder, the Standards Registry pre-loaded with the new standards and existing relevant standards, and the Terminology server were made available to the public via an open and intuitive web interface. 

Throughout the process, MetadataWorks actively engaged with social care and health stakeholders through various channels to collect the information, ensure buy-in, educate, and receive feedback.  

Technology implemented:

Federated Data Catalogue:

Care providers gain the ability to easily list and access available data within datasets, facilitating data discovery, improved utilization, and informed decision-making processes.

The solution enables the publication of data standards alongside datasets, ensuring consistency, improved interoperability, and streamlined care processes across the social care sector.

Standards repository with preloaded standards:

MetadataWorks launched the first national standards repository for social care data, simplifying access to standardized metadata and enabling consistent data practices for improved care delivery. MetadataWorks’ solution preloaded data standards and specifications, enabling social care providers to easily adopt industry best practices. The standards registry comes with a robust publication environment that facilitates the governance and publication of data standards. 

Terminology Server:

MetadataWorks implemented a Terminology Server, known as the Data Dictionary, which indexed, enriched, and provided easy access to social care data definitions, types, and relationships. This facilitates data understanding, effective data management, and collaboration among care providers.


Digital Social Care UK successfully transformed the social care sector by utilizing MetadataWorks’ metadata management solution and delivering the first national social care data catalogue of its kind. Over 1700 members of the social care data community have already engaged with the catalogue to find, understand and explore data standards through the new platform.

The establishment of a centralized repository for data standards, along with comprehensive metadata management features, has laid a strong foundation for the future of social care in the UK. As the sector moves towards streamlined data standards, efficient data sharing, and enhanced collaboration among care providers the program will deliver improved care outcomes, enhanced service provision, and informed policy decisions.

MeadataWorks have been selected as partner for the next 2 years to deliver the next phase of the program.

Discover more about Metadataworks Ltd:

Data usage in distributed organisations is often broken. Data engineers are overwhelmed with requests for information – spending much of their time answering ad-hoc data queries. Data user struggle to find, understand and access information. The result is slow, event, or event erroneous research. MetadatWorks provides the foundations that make your data usable, and helps you achieve your data goals. Our end-to-end metadata management solution has three layers: A business metadata catalogue, professional services, and an intuitive user interface that all types of users can understand and use. Designed especially for government, research and healthcare organisations, MetadataWorks’ solution allows data teams to reduce data search efforts, accelerate data readiness and make data usable.


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