How can we scale-up innovations? Lessons from the development of four local Shared Lives schemes

Carl PurcellDr Carl Purcell is a Research Fellow based in the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, part of the Policy Institute at King’s College London. He is also part of the team working on the SASCI project led by Dr Juliette Malley based at the Care Policy Evaluation Centre at the LSE. This is the second of two blogs on Shared Lives. (1,315 words)

In a previous blog we considered the successful spread of Shared Lives (SLs) schemes as an alternative model of care that seeks to replicate ‘ordinary’ family life for adults with care needs. This model has long enticed national and local policymakers’ attention and SLs schemes are now established in most English local authority (LA) areas. However, it remains a very small model accounting for just 1 per cent of those drawing on local authority funded adult social care and less than 0.5 per cent of the workforce. Furthermore, SLs continues to be used predominantly for the care and support of people with learning disabilities (LD) despite efforts to promote its wider use for a more diverse range of people. This prompted us to investigate the challenges faced by local schemes trying to ‘scale-up’. Continue reading

How do innovations spread? What we can learn from Shared Lives schemes and the role of Shared Lives Plus?

Carl PurcellDr Carl Purcell is a Research Fellow based in the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, part of the Policy Institute at King’s College London. He is also part of the team working on the SASCI project led by Dr Juliette Malley based at the Care Policy Evaluation Centre at the LSE. See also the second blog in this series by Dr Purcell. (1,129 words)

Innovation, or doing things differently, is commonly promoted by policymakers as a response to social challenges in the context of increased pressure on public services and stretched resources. Policy announcements on adult social care are testament to this, but we know surprisingly little about how innovations emerge and are developed, sustained, and spread. The Supporting Adult Social Care Innovation (SASCI) project – an ESRC funded study investigating innovation in adult social care in England – was set up to address this. The spread of Shared Lives (SLs) schemes across England has provided an intriguing case study. Continue reading

Child and family welfare services: where do we go next?

Dr Carl Purcell, NIHR Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. His book, The Politics of Children’s Services Reform: Re-examining Two Decades of Policy Change, is just out. (849 words)

As we emerge from the current crisis, we must rethink how we resource and deliver child and family welfare services. The incredible contribution made by everybody working in the NHS is now widely appreciated. But we must remember that there are many others working to protect the most vulnerable in our society who also deserve our recognition. Furthermore, as we move, tentatively, towards easing the lockdown the skills, knowledge and dedication of teachers, childcare workers and social workers, to name just a few, will be vital to ensuring that we are able to identify and support the most vulnerable children and families.

However, as we place greater demands on schools, local authorities and a vast array of voluntary sector agencies we must recognise that before the current crisis our child and family welfare system was already under significant strain. In my new book I reflect upon recent national policy developments to help explain how we arrived in this position. As we chart a way forward, three aspects of the contemporary system need to be addressed.

First, we need to reconsider the extent to which, and how, we provide financial assistance to those who need it most. Since 2010 welfare payments and tax breaks offered to the poorest families have been reduced or withdrawn. Progress made in reducing child poverty over the preceding decade has been reversed, with over 4 million children now living in poverty, many of them in working households (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2018). Moreover, the current crisis has demonstrated how precarious and insecure many people’s jobs are, and we have seen record increases in benefit claims. Many more families have been pushed beneath the poverty line. Continue reading