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Public Health Wales team awarded funding to improve communicable disease surveillance in care homes

Published: 15 November 2023

The data science team at Public Health Wales’ Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre has been jointly awarded funding to develop new tools that will help protect care home residents from infectious diseases. 

There are approximately 25,000 care home residents in Wales, and this group is often more vulnerable to poor outcomes from infection. Living in a communal home setting can also increase the risk of outbreaks, making timely and quality surveillance data vital.  

The National Data Resource programme is an initiative designed to transform health and care in Wales through a more connected and collaborative use of data. Public Health Wales’ Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre applied for funding through its Big Data Fund to develop tools that will improve the efficiency and consistency of identifying care home residents from surveillance data using data science techniques. 

The team will use existing data sources to develop computer tools which will identify care home residents in a more automated way, aiming to replace the current largely manual process which is inefficient, and sometimes unreliable. 

 Dr Christopher Williams, Consultant Epidemiologist and Head of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, said: “This funding will allow our team to develop tools that will improve surveillance information for action for wider range of organisms and targeted interventions.  

“Our data scientists Dr Mark Postans and Dr Mark Drakesmith lead the development. The resulting tools will be open-source to give opportunities for teams beyond health protection in healthcare systems to better care for this population group.”