Why your annual returns are so important

Every year in January and February, we ask care service providers to complete an annual return.  It asks for a great deal of information about your service and the people who use it.  It is important to know why you are asked for this information, and what we do with it. 

First and foremost, the information you provide in the annual return helps us understand your service. This means inspectors are able to plan and prepare for effective inspections that are focused appropriately.

Not only is the annual return important for planning and focusing inspections, but the information you also give provides a national picture, which can help the us and other partner organisations in a number of ways.

This year's annual returns are now closed. We would like to thank everyone who submitted their annual return to us by the deadline, Sunday 17 March 2024. The information you have provided will help us plan, inform and carry out our inspections and improvement work.

Even inactive services must submit an annual return.

If a service was registered on or after 1 October 2023, it should try to complete an annual return this year. Although it is not mandatory for these services, any information supplied will be used by the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Government.  The information entered this year will automatically appear in the December 2024 annual return and only information that has changed will need to be entered.

Benchmarks and comparisons for inspectors 

Inspectors can compare a service they are looking at with national averages to identify potential issues.  For example, if the inspector is preparing to inspect a service with higher staff turnover than average, when they inspect, the inspector might look at the impact this could have had on the quality of care and outcomes for people using that service.

Publishing statistics

We also publish statistical reports of some of the annual returns data.  We also use the annual return data to inform many of our other publications such as:

National policy makers (the Scottish Government) can use these summaries and publications to shape and evaluate national policies and providers can see how their service compares with other services.

Supporting improvement

The intelligence we gather through annual returns helps us target our improvement activity and support within social care. It is a great source of baseline data across a variety of health and wellbeing indicators which we use to identify, drive and track improvement, for example infection control, nutrition and the recruitment and retention of staff.  The data also helps us to identify trends and topics by both geographical area or service type, so that we can see where best to focus our improvement support work, for example, improvement workshops or new resources and guidance for care services across the sector.

Reducing duplication and sharing information

We also share information with other public bodies to reduce duplication and the costs of data collection for both the taxpayer and the people providing data.  For example, anonymised staffing information is shared with the Scottish Social Services Council, so they can develop intelligence about the workforce without having to collect additional data from care services.

If you need help accessing the annual return, you can call our contact centre on 0345 600 9527 or read our frequently asked questions.