Extensive guidance on conducting the adult social care survey (ASCS) and carers survey (PSS SACE) is provided by NHS Digital, so you may be wondering why we have included a planning guide in the MAX toolkit.

And this would be a good question as, after all, what more can our planning guide possibly add?

Well, potentially quite a bit.

Our earlier work with LA staff showed us that planning the key stages of the survey process is the first step to transforming the ASCS and PSS SACE data into a large piece of local research and translating survey data into meaningful results.

While many of the survey administrators that we spoke to (usually analysts and their managers) reported planning barriers, our work also showed us that the staff in some organisations had implemented strategies to overcome these barriers and, by doing so, were able to use more of their ASCS and PSS SACE analysis findings to guide local decision-making and service improvements.

By enabling LA decision-makers to draw on the user feedback provided in the surveys to inform the design and delivery of local services, such strategies may help LAs to fulfil some of their obligation under the Care Act – and also maximise the considerable time and resources allocated to the ASCS and PSS SACE – we therefore felt that a planning guide based on these strategies, and the recommended practices in the wider literature, may be useful.
The planning element of the MAX toolkit

The MAX PLANNING GUIDE provides suggestions on how you can plan the key stages of the survey process (planning, analysis and interpretation, and reporting) and, in particular, may help you to:

  1. Identify local information needs – in other words, the information needs of decision-makers and practitioners within your organisation (e.g. by engaging with potential ‘consumers’ of survey data); and
  1. Plan to and fulfil local information needs using survey data – for example, by adding local questions, conducting further statistical analysis and/or drawing on supplementary sources of existing data (e.g. LA records, findings from other local research).

The MAX project team are aware that the time, resources and opportunities available to individual toolkit users may vary considerably. We have therefore provided a number of potentially useful strategies in the guide as well as suggestions on what to do if time or opportunities are limited.

All of the strategies detailed in the MAX planning guide only require you to make minor amendments to your existing planning processes, and all may potentially yield significant results. So take a look, and see what you can learn!

Example of LA practice

One LA included three additional questions after the (existing) ease of finding information question in the ASCS to ask respondents about the current complaints process, their preferred method of making a complaint, and whether they would use an online complaints form. Subsequent analysis found that just under a quarter of respondents did not know how to make a complaint and that nearly three-quarters of respondents said that they would not use an online complaints form, preferring to call the call-centre, wither themselves or using an advocate. These findings suggested that the current complaints process needed to be promoted more and/or be made more accessible, and that plans to develop and implement an online complaints system should be reviewed.

Please see the Local practice examples for further examples.

Further information about the planning element of the MAX toolkit can be found in our planning overview.
The next blog in this series summarises the strategies that may help you to identify the information needs of decision-makers within your organisation and can be accessed here.


This blog is based on independent research commissioned and funded by the NIHR Policy Research Programme (Maximising the value of survey data in adult social care (MAX) project and MAX toolkit implementation and impact study). The views expressed in the publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health and Social Care or its arm’s length bodies or other government departments.



    […] The development of the surveys are outlined in the figures below and the more detailed summaries included in the MAX toolkit can be accessed here [ASCS] [PSS SACE]. Future blogs will describe how local modifications can be used to improve the local relevance of ASCS and PSS SACE data, and how focused analysis can transform the survey datasets into meaningful management information. The next blog discussed why you should read the MAX planning guide and can be accessed here. […]