At last, some good news for social care

Jason Lowther

It’s been another tough month for social care.  The House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee concluded that the White Paper  ducked the issue of long term reform, whilst Health Secretary Matt Hancock denied to two parliamentary committees that he’d ever promised to test hospital patients for Covid before discharging them to care homes.  It would be easy for social care colleagues to feel a little unloved.  Good news, then, that a new centre aiming to help adult social care is starting work.

This month, the ‘UK Centre for Evidence IMPlementation in Adult Social Care’ (IMPACT) starts its initial engagement work.  IMPACT aims to both enable practical improvements in adult social care and contribute to longer-term cultural change.  IMPACT will be an ‘implementation centre’, using knowledge from ‘different types of research, the lived experience of people using services and their carers, and the practice wisdom of social care staff’.  It will take a distinctive approach in each of the four nations of the UK, recognising the different policy contexts in each, as well as sharing learning across the UK as a whole. 

Their core belief is based on the words of one of the people using services who has helped to shape proposals for the new centre:

“good support isn’t just about ‘services’ – it’s about having a life”.

The centre aims to provide practical support in implementing evidence, bring stakeholders together to share learning, and create sustainable change in adult social care.   Working with people with lived experience of adult social care services and a range of existing policy and practice partners, their objectives are:

Supporting more widespread use of evidence in adult social care, leading to better carepractices, systems and outcomes for people who use services, their families and communities

Building capacity and skills in the adult social care workforce to work with evidence ofdifferent kinds to innovate, improve care and deliver better outcomes

Facilitating sustainable and productive relationships between the full range of adultsocial care stakeholders to co-create positive change/innovations and improve outcomes for people using adult social care and their families

Improving understanding of the factors which help and hinder the implementation of evidence in practice, and using this to overcome longstanding barriers to positive change

Directed by Professor Jon Glasby from our sister department at the University of Birmingham, the centre has a Leadership Team of 12 other academics, people using social care services, and policy and practice partners – along with a broader consortium of key stakeholders from across the sector.  Funding of £15 million has been provided by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, and the Health Foundation. 

IMPACT will have a one-year establishment phase in which its key projects, delivery models and work programme will be refined in discussion with the sector, ready for delivery (2023-2027).

The initial engagement process includes a survey of stakeholders, to which colleagues working in social care are invited to contribute, to help identify priorities for the sector, and to help develop a draft work programme and ideas for delivery.  It would be great if you could complete a short survey (approx. 10 mins) to help shape the work: https://bham.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9tnuKolsBb3OfGu – this will contribute directly to the design of the work programme and how the new centre develops. 

In addition, there will be five linked ‘IMPACT Assemblies’ (two in England and one each in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) to identify and build consensus around IMPACT’s priorities; test and refine proposed delivery models; and support subsequent scaling up and cultural change.  There will also be a national exercise to build links with user-led organisations and community groups that work with and for people with seldom heard voices.  Finally, there will be a review and synthesis of the key principles and frameworks currently used in social care and health to support co-production.  If you want to find out more as IMPACT starts its work, please email [email protected] with your name, role and location.  There is more information via the website and a recent article in the social care trade press.

It’s exciting to see this centre starting its important work, especially given the long delays to the promised White Paper on social care and the critical challenges facing the sector after Covid.

picture source: The Guardian

Jason Lowther is Director of the Institute for Local Government Studies (INLOGOV), University of Birmingham

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