Everyday maths for Health and Social Care and Education Support 1
Everyday maths for Health and Social Care and Education Support 1

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Everyday maths for Health and Social Care and Education Support 1

2 Handling data

What does handling data mean?

A dictionary gives the following definitions:

  • Handle: To use, operate, manage.
  • Data: Facts, especially numerical facts, collected together for reference or information.

So, the phrase ‘handling data’ means being able to read, understand and interpret facts and figures.

You do this every day if you look at bus and train timetables, or diagrams, charts and graphs. All of these show complex information as simply as possible.

In fact, you’re surrounded by mountains of data! Many roles in Health and Social Care such as nursing, midwifery and social work require a university degree. A university prospectus is full of data that you need to understand before you apply. For example:

  • tables that show course costs and entry requirements
  • flow charts which outline the course content
  • charts to show how many places are offered against the number of applications received.

Comparing the information about different courses or comparing prospectus’ from different universities will help you to decide what course you want to apply for and where you want to study.

If you can, have a look on different university websites for an online prospectus and see for yourself how tables, charts and diagrams are used to make the information easier to understand.

Look at the following table showing information about university courses for people who work in Health and Social Care.

Described image
Figure 1 A table of course details

If you know that you will only be able to study on a part-time basis you can see from the table which courses you could study and which are only available as full-time courses.

Example: The weather

The NHS provides advice and guidance on keeping healthy in particularly warm and particularly cold weather. Health and Social Care and Education Support practitioners need to be aware of this advice and any current weather warnings, This is so they can respond appropriately and ensure the safety of the patients, families or children they are working with.

For example, elderly residents in a care home need to keep warm in winter to prevent them from becoming more vulnerable to illnesses. If icy weather is expected, elderly patients may be advised to stay indoors to reduce their risk of a fall or injury.

If you look in a newspaper, it will probably have a section that tells you the weather forecast. It might even have this information in a table that looks like this:

Weather update

WeatherMin. temp.


Max. temp.


WeatherMin. temp.


Max. temp.


South and southwestA sun icon.22/7227/81A sun-and-showers icon.16/6121/70
MidlandsA sun icon.22/7228/82A sun icon.24/7531/88
ScotlandA sun icon.20/6824/75A lightning icon.19/6621/70
WalesA rain icon.15/5919/66A lightning icon.17/6321/70
Northern IrelandA lightning icon.18/6424/75A sun icon.21/7027/81

This could have been written out like this:

  • The weather today in the south, southwest, Midlands and Scotland will be sunny. In Wales there will be showers and in Northern Ireland there will be storms. Tomorrow it will be sunny, with showers in the south and southwest. It will be sunny in the Midlands and Northern Ireland, and there will be storms in Scotland and Wales.

Can you see how displaying the information in table form made it easier to understand?

Tables are made up of rows and columns. Rows are horizontal (that is, they go across the page) and the columns are vertical (up and down).

Described image
Figure 2 Rows and tables

To make sense of a table you need to have three things:

  1. A title that tells you what the table is about. In this table the title is ‘Weather update’.
  2. Row headings that tell you what is in each row. In the weather table the row headings are:
    • South and southwest
    • Midlands
    • Scotland
    • Wales
    • Northern Ireland
  3. Column headings that tell you what is in each column. In the weather table the column headings are:
    • Location
    • Today
    • Tomorrow

Tables can be very big, with many rows and columns – it depends how much information you are displaying.

For example, in a bus or train station you will see a huge timetable on the wall with many rows and columns. It is supposed to make the data easier to understand, but it is still complicated and easy to get confused.

Example: A bus timetable

Look at the following page from a bus timetable:

Described image
Figure 3 A bus timetable

Mr Newman would like to catch a bus from Woodgreen Avenue to visit his son at the hospital in Banbury. He would like to get there before 8:45 a.m. What’s the latest bus he can catch to arrive at his son’s house in time?


The latest bus he could catch is the 8:21 a.m. bus from Woodgreen Avenue, which would arrive at the hospital at 8:39 a.m.

Described image
Figure 4 A bus timetable (answer)

Now try the following activities. Remember to check your answers once you have completed the questions.

Activity 4: A trip to the pharmacy

The local pharmacy has the following opening times:

DayOpening timeClosing time
  1. When is the pharmacy open all day?
  2. When is the pharmacy open only in the afternoon?


  1. The pharmacy is open all day on Wednesday and Friday.
  2. The pharmacy is open only in the afternoon on Tuesday.

Activity 5: The care assistant’s shift

At the end of his shift a care assistant drew up the following table to work out how many drinks he had served to residents:

DrinksNumber served
TeaA tally count of 5.A tally count of 1.
CoffeeA tally count of 5.A tally count of 2.
Orange juiceA tally count of 2.
Hot chocolateA tally count of 3.
CokeA tally count of 5.
  1. The table does not have a title. What would be a suitable title?
  2. What are the row headings and column headings?
  3. How many Cokes did the care assistant serve?
  4. How many cold drinks did the care assistant serve?
  5. How many drinks did the care assistant serve all together?


  1. A suitable title would be something like ‘Drinks served during shift’.
  2. The row headings are ‘Tea’, ‘Coffee’, ‘Orange juice’, ‘Hot chocolate’ and ‘Coke’. The column headings are ‘Drinks’ and ‘Number served’.
  3. The care assistant served five Cokes.
  4. The care assistant served two orange juices and five Cokes, making seven cold drinks in total.
  5. The care assistant served 6 + 7 + 2 + 3 + 5 = 23 drinks in total.


In this section you have learned about handling data, and specifically, how to present data in tables.


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