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This diagram shows the types of information collected by the SALT return.

flow diagram representing the service user pathways through SALT

Figure 1 service user pathways through SALT

SALT has been designed to track service user journeys through the social care system, demonstrated by the arrows which represent the ways in which service users can move between different forms of support. Support to carers is also vital and is referenced in both sections of the return, as well as having its own LTS measure.

Following a request for support, service users may be provided with a period of short term support designed to maximise their independence (e.g. a ‘reablement’ service) or be referred directly for long term support (e.g. care home admission) or receive support such as ongoing low level support (for example an item of assistive equipment).

Short term support to maximise independence (ST-Max) is intended to be time-limited with the aim of ensuring service users become as independent as possible, ending with a formal assessment or review to determine what will follow. Long term support encompasses support provided with the intention of maintaining quality of life for an individual on an ongoing basis. Carer support in SALT encompasses both short and long term interventions.

The emphasis is on recording key events and the sequels to those events. The 'STS' and 'LTS' measures in SALT should not be thought of as counts of short term and long term services.

The measures are designed to be useful at both a local and national level. SALT provides a much richer national picture of short term preventative services than was possible in previous returns. The dataset allows for easier integration with surveys and other outcome measures and sharing of best practice through benchmarking.

Basis of return

As this is the sixth year of data collection we are not expecting any estimates. However, we recognise there may be exceptional circumstances where this is necessary in which case please state that an estimate has been used and detail the method used in the comments.

This should include the sample size and the method used to derive the estimate. It is also important to describe any known limitations, inaccuracies or issues with the sample in order that the correct conclusions can be drawn.

Uses of information collected

The SALT return is intended to offer scope for genuine comparability between local authorities, and reliable aggregation to provide national and regional overviews.

The information is required for:

  1. Providing data on council activity for use within the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF):
  2. Monitoring the uptake of Self Directed Support, direct payments and personal budgets
  3. Monitoring long term admissions to residential and nursing care
  4. Providing data on support for carers
  5. Providing data on employment and accommodation for adults with learning disability support
  6. Providing data on outcomes for older people discharged from hospital into rehabilitative / reablement settings.
  7. Providing data on the sequels to requests for support for new clients
  8. Providing data on the sequels to receipt of ST-Max for new and existing service users
  9. Providing an evidence base to allow councils to plan resources and develop policies on resource allocation
  10. Enabling local authorities to monitor their own provision, develop local performance indicators and make comparisons between their own and other local authorities
  11. Answering Parliamentary Questions and contributing to ministerial briefings
  12. Answering a range of requests from external customers, for example Freedom of Information requests.

Data validation

Once all the data has been entered into the data return workbook, the Validations tab should be reviewed. If any red error messages are shown, the data can be amended accordingly, correcting the error and returning the Validation Result to ‘Passed Validation’. Alternatively, if there is a reason for the Validation Rule to be breached, this can be provided in the Breach Reason column. This should only be done when you have checked the data and are confident it is correct.

Some validation rules compare table totals with the equivalent table total from the previous year. An error message is displayed if the total is more than 20% above or below the previous year’s total for the same table, providing the previous year’s total is more than 50. Again, you should provide a reason to explain the change.

It is important that you fill out the responses to the validation queries and provide feedback in the Supplementary Information at the bottom of each worksheet as fully and clearly as possible. This will help us to form a view of how local systems, interpretation of guidance and data quality issues have affected council results, so that the quality statement released with the SALT publication can give appropriate guidance to users of the data.

Sharing your feedback

Feedback you send to us regarding the quality of data you submit, including information in emails and in the data return (for example comments in the supplementary information at the bottom of each worksheet or on the End Sheet) may be shared with the Department of Health and Social Care and may be included as part of our publications, in order to facilitate a better understanding of data quality issues.

SALT queries

If you have any queries, or any feedback on the guidance materials provided, please send them to

Frequently asked questions

For further guidance please check in frequently asked questions. 

Last edited: 11 May 2022 9:33 am