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So long, farewell, ASC-WDS, goodbye!

Adam Spencer

If you’ve ever heard a statistic reported in the news about England’s adult social care workforce, I’d bet money that this information came from the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set.

Whether it’s the BBC, Channel 4, the Guardian or even the New York Times; the ASC-WDS is the leading source of intelligence and insight about this essential sector.

During my time at Lagom, I’ve been privileged to work with Skills for Care as a user researcher on the ASC-WDS. 

It is ingrained into me now. To this day, I cannot walk past a care home and not briefly ponder whether they use the service or not.

My journey started with its predecessor – the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC); where our discovery in 2018 helped inform its redevelopment as a renewed, user-centred digital service. 

We continued as Skills for Care’s user research partner for its alpha and private beta phase. And it was here where I enjoyed my first experiences of the GDS service assessment process.

Our involvement tapered off by the end of 2019, but we watched with anticipation as Skills for Care continued to build the ASC-WDS into a live service beyond its MVP specification.

I was happy with that. The quantity and diversity of user research undertaken by Lagom was an impressive and lasting achievement. 

That was until July, earlier this year. Skills for Care were in need of a Lagom-shaped user researcher once again while the team recruited their own permanent resource.

I’ve found these last few months really refreshing and illuminating. 

I got to play with new functionality and features that finally resolved some of those lower priority user needs we’d identified back in discovery, but could not be explored until the essential rebuild first.

I learnt more about the future direction for the service. To my last point, there’s certainly more freedom for ambition now there’s less brownfield development.

And obviously, I’ve met more users. A lot of new research participants, but I also re-engaged with some veteran ASC-WDS data inputters too. People that I’d spoken to years before and could now hear their glowing testimonies about how the service had progressed since the NMDS-SC days.

And now, the end is near; and so I face the final participant. 

I’ve written my interview questions, booked my sprint’s worth of users to speak with and by Friday, I’ll have analysed their feedback to debrief the team about for the very last time.

I am very grateful to have been asked back for these last few months. I’ll miss the collaboration, determination and of course, the team’s tenacious spirit and unrivalled humour.

I wish them every success with the service. 

And I also hope that their new user researcher – Corina; enjoys the complex research and design challenges like the ones that this digital dreadnought has fired at me to resolve over the years.


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