Reporting Minimum Data Specification (RMDS)

A step towards lightening the reporting load for social care providers

Work to develop an Adult Social Care Reporting Minimum Data Specification (RMDS) for DSCRs aims to help decrease the reporting burden on care providers and improve information sharing and insight across the sector.

Imagine a world where adult social care service reporting happens in a more automated way, with minimum input from care professionals – giving them more time to deliver care, and maximum access for the various organisations that need the information, from local authorities and integrated care systems to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). 

As increasingly social care providers move away from paper and implement digital social care record solutions (DSCRS) this ambition is edging closer to reality.

The digitising social care programme has been working on a draft Reporting Minimum Data Specification (RMDS) for Digital Social Care Records (DSCR) with a view to helping to support the streamlining of some of the reporting requirements for CQC regulated providers. In the same way that our ongoing work to develop a Minimum Operational Data Standard (MODS) sets out some standard definitions and terminology, ensuring all providers are speaking a similar language when it comes to digital social care records. It is hoped that the RMDS will help to build a more accurate and up to date picture of adult social care services being provided, and the people who are receiving that care and support. 

Only care provider level data will be gathered as part of the RMDS, personal data will remain confidential and unidentifiable. Defining an RMDS which draws from the data inputted into digital social care records can actively inform commissioning, policy, and regulation to ensure they are relevant and can adapt quickly to the changing needs of communities and localities. So rather than care professionals updating paper records, and registered managers and others having to collate these to then provide a range of reports and updates to different organisations, this vital information can be gathered automatically through the day-to-day management of digital social care records. 

We know that providers who have adopted digital social care records are seeing huge benefits to this change, from the significant time and efficiency savings, to a reduction in their time spent on admin tasks. The aim behind the work to develop an RMDS is to further enhance the benefits of adopting digital care planning approaches. 

The 2023 strategy Care Data Matters sets out the objectives for improving the data landscape in social care, and the RMDS is a part of this goal to streamline and improve existing data collections. The aim is to, as far as possible, collect care data once and share safely multiple times, in order to reduce the burden on care providers and remove the requirement to manually input numerous data returns. Currently these include the DHSC mandated provider data collection (via Capacity Tracker), CQC Provider Information Returns (PIR) and local authority returns. 

The RMDS is still a work in progress, with more work expected this year to user test the variables, further engage with the sector, and narrow the RMDS down, but it has the potential to reduce the burden for care providers. No more juggling different data collections or spending time on manual input when the information is already collected operationally through DSCRs. With the growing momentum of providers choosing to move away from paper and adopt digital care records the foundations are being laid for more effective and timely information sharing between health and adult social care services, all with the aim of helping to deliver better, safer, and more personalised care.


Page last updated: 15 December 2023