Guest Blog: Making an ‘IMPACT’ and implementing evidence in adult social care
Reframing social care
Social care was hit so hard during the pandemic – and the tragic implications of COVID were arguably made worse by a history of policy neglect, lack of public understanding and insufficient funding. Elsewhere, we’ve described the period of 2010-2020 as a ‘lost decade’ in which funding, service and workforce pressures all intensified, creating the very real risk that the system as a whole could simply collapse.
And yet this is only part of the story. All round the country people are innovating (often in small-scale and bottom-up ways) to find new approaches to designing care and support which helps people lead chosen lifestyles. Rather than focusing on ‘deficits’ (what people can’t do for themselves), many focus on ‘strengths’ (what’s important to the person, the natural supports they already draw on to live a good life and – if necessary – ways that publicly funded support could wrap around and enhance these).
Much of this is captured in the #SocialCareFuture vision:
We all want to live in the place we call home with the people and things that we love, in communities where we look out for one another, doing the things that matter to us.
This really chimes with the work of IMPACT, the new UK centre for implementing evidence in adult social care. We believe that “good support isn’t just about ‘services’ – it’s about having a life”, and that evidence of what works has an important part to play in delivering these visions.
Unlike some evidence centres, we believe that ‘evidence’ should include insights from research, the lived experience of people who draw on care and support and carers, and the practice knowledge of social care staff. While each of these is important in its own right, they need to be brought together, triangulated and worked with in the round if we’re going to be able to produce genuine innovation that really works and that really lasts.
Making an ‘IMPACT’
IMPACT is funded by a £15 million grant from the ESRC and the Health Foundation, and we’ll be working across the four nations of the UK to test different ways in which evidence of what works can make a difference in the realities of local services and people’s lives.
Our first five pilots are just going live – around assets-based approaches for older people in Mid and East Antrim, support for carers of people with dementia at end of life in Ebbw Vale, use of technology in home care in Glasgow, personalisation for people from black and minority ethnic communities in Leicester, and choice and control for people in supported living (with sites across all four nations).
All the feedback we’ve received so far is that people don’t want ‘more evidence’ (or even training to use the evidence they already have). What they would really value is practical support to bring about change on the ground, funding to enable the participation of voices that are seldom heard and ways of coming together to work with others on implementing change.
techUK members have a track record of innovation, and these skills and experiences could make a massive difference to social care and to the lives of people who draw on care and support.
Later in the year, there’ll be an open process for different services, areas of the country and broader organisations to apply to be considered as a host for future IMPACT projects, and we’d urge members to consider applying.
In the meantime, there’s scope to sign up for a regular update via the IMPACT website – watch this space for more news soon!