26th May 2017

Innovate to survive

For the last 18 years, Skills for Care has been focussed on improving the skills and knowledge of the adult social care workforce. So much has changed in this time, but one thing that has remained constant in our experience is that all of the best ideas come from providers themselves.

People at the front line, absolutely committed to providing fantastic support in often challenging circumstances, are forced to innovate to keep their business afloat. Great, imaginative solutions and new approaches are developed all the time, and with 23,000 care providing locations in the sector, one of Skills for Care’s most important jobs is to foster innovation, and as importantly share what works with everyone else.

Each year we ask social care providers to come to us with ideas to tackle a set of ‘wicked issues’, and through the Workforce Development Innovation Fund we provide money and support to a limited number of projects.

But what do we mean by innovation?

Here’s one example: many people living with dementia go into emergency care because they reach crisis point. One London borough tackled this by integrating training for frontline staff in housing and adult social care, and families and carers.

Havering took existing knowledge on dementia awareness and behaviour that challenges, person-centred planning, assistive technology and third-sector and community support, and developed holistic training programmes for their target audiences. Together they developed strength-based interventions to help people live well in their homes for longer.

Their innovation was in testing ideas that create person-centred services, and refining strategies for growth and sustainability.

People often think of innovation as being something new. In fact, it’s incredibly hard to come up with an idea that is original, and actually, a lot of the innovation projects Skills for Care funds come from testing or improving ideas, or in setting up ways to make an innovation sustainable and part of mainstream delivery.

If you’re interested in applying for funding, take a look at our priorities for this year, and before you apply I’d recommend you read the relevant case studies in Learn from Others. This is where you’ll find out about the innovation projects that have already delivered, and crucially, what they learned. By building on, rather than repeating work you can make sure your bid is innovative.

The Innovation Fund is open to adult social care employers in England until 1pm on Thursday 22 June 2017. All applicants should read the guidance carefully before writing the application.

In addition to the Innovation Fund, Skills for Care supports the ongoing professional development of staff across adult social care through the Workforce Development Fund. This is open to adult social care employers and is money for a range of qualification units, qualifications and learning programmes.

The work done with both the Workforce Development Innovation Fund and the Workforce Development Fund has made a real difference in what is a rapidly changing adult social care world. But if we have learnt anything it’s that employers drive innovation so if you think you have a great idea that you want to test out then we are looking forward to hearing from you, good luck!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Georgina Turner

Programme Head for Employer Engagement

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