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Improving social cares staff understanding of outcomes

Updated: May 7, 2023

Providers, social care worker commissioners, regulators and those who receive a care service are all concerned about outcomes. They all want to know how a service user has benefited as a result of a social care service intervention.

Some time ago I produced an outcomes pack for ‘skills for care’ designed to give staff a better understanding of outcomes.

Outcomes then are important and through this blog I wish to shed a little more light on the topic that may help social care staff.

What is an outcome?

In social care, the starting point of outcomes are the results of the support activity, not the activity itself. An outcome of a service for an individual can be described as: “the impact or effect on the person concerned as a result of help received.”

Our aim then is to support the service user achieve planned and positive outcomes.

Outcome categories

The care provided by social care staff falls into four broad categories:

Maintenance – Those people who have long-term enduring conditions which lead them to be dependent for daily living on some form of care support.

Rehabilitation – Those people who have conditions, which though long-term, with the right type of enablement/ rehabilitation the amount of long-term support required can change and reduce over time.

Short term – Those people who have shorter-term conditions or crises, which with the right type of enablement/rehabilitation will need little or no care support.

One off – Those people who have minimum care needs that may be helped by sign posting to community-based services.

In addition, regardless of whether outcomes are change or maintenance ones, it makes sense to group similar outcomes together that relate to a particular aspect of a person’s life. This is usually referred to as domains of outcomes. It also makes sense, to think about outcomes that are related to the following seven domains:

1. Improved health and emotional wellbeing 2. Improved quality of life 3. Making a positive contribution 4. Increased choice and control 5. Freedom from discrimination and harassment 6. Economic wellbeing 7. Maintaining personal dignity and respect

Setting outcomes

Outcomes are normally set as part of the care planning process. Firstly, through a description of the intervention (what the social care service intends to do) and secondly what is the aim, objective and purpose of the intervention (the outcome).

The intervention and success of the outcome are evaluated as part of the care plan review.

When setting outcomes for services users as part of the care planning process, staff should ensure the following:

1 Is the outcome meaningful to the needs of the service user? 2 Is the outcome achievable with the recourses available to the service? 3 Is the outcome measurable?

These are important and central to the achievement of positive outcomes and evaluation of the intervention.

Seeking evidence of outcomes achievement

There are in general terms three ways of seeking evidence of positive, planned outcomes: • Seeking the service user’s perception of the quality of the service to achieve the outcome, • The effectiveness or its impact of the outcome on them. • The verification of the outcome by observation or records.


Outcomes are central to the provision of social care services. They enable staff and service users to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention and the measurement of what the service intended to do.

The setting of outcomes that are meaningful, achievable and measurable are crucial to the evaluation process to establish whether or not the intervention of the social care service achieved its aim, objective and purpose.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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