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Having IMPACT on a broken system

19 May 2021 · Categories: Opinions and responses, Reports and articles

Early last year I was asked by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to join a peer review panel considering submissions to run a new Centre for Evidence Implementation in Adult Social Care. Not having an academic background, this type of process was new to me but I accepted the request with interest and really enjoyed the process.

Almost 18 months later, I was delighted to be informed that the new £15 million UK IMPACT (Improving Adult Care Together) Centre, funded by ESRC and the Health Foundation is getting underway. It will be led by Professor Jon Glasby at the University of Birmingham, with a team of 12 other academics, people using social care services, and partners and stakeholders from across the four nations of the UK.

We see that IMPACT will be an ‘implementation centre’, drawing on knowledge gained 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 work across the UK to make sure that it is embedded in, and sensitive to, the very different policy contexts in each of the four nations, as well as being able to share learning across the UK as a whole.

As it gets up and running, IMPACT will seek to:

  • Provide practical support to implement evidence in the realities of everyday life and front-line services
  • Build on the learning from previous approaches in a diverse and fragmented sector
  • Bring key stakeholders together to share learning and co-design our work…
  • Work over three phases of development (‘co-design’, ‘establishment’ and ‘delivery’) to build a centre that creates sustainable change in the adult social care landscape

Last week, I was working with Red Quadrant and a lovely group of commissioners from a South East local authority. I spoke about person-centred commissioning and gave examples of creative community and micro-enterprises able to offer exactly what people want and need. As the session neared its close and we began to think about commissioning practice I challenged people to put the status quo under at least as much scrutiny as the new. I explained how hard it is for quirky, small, creative support services to get any traction for their ideas, even when they offer exactly what people are looking for. I also shared how frustrating it can be for them, and their champions to see services that don’t work and models that even harm to consistently gain funding and champions. I laid down a bit of a gauntlet.

With that at the front of my mind I, and Community Catalysts colleagues, have been reflecting on the IMPACT announcement with hope. We can see how this initiative has so much potential to be a catalyst for real, positive change. Opportunities for the gathering of evidence for all that we know to be true – that the status quo does not work for many people and that, despite the prevailing rhetoric to the contrary there are many real and viable alternatives that put people front and centre. Now that would be a welcome IMPACT indeed!

By Angela Catley – Director of Development 

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