IMPACT (Improving Adult Care Together) is the new UK centre for implementing evidence in adult social care. It’s funded by The Health Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), who have joined forces to support the creation of the centre, providing £15m over 7 years.  

Jon Glasby is IMPACT’s Director. A qualified social worker by background, Jon is Professor of Health and Social Care at the University of Birmingham, and also sits on the board of an NHS Trust and a local authority children’s service, bringing wide experience to this role.  

We spoke to Jon about his plans for the IMPACT centre, and his hopes that its work will encourage more evidence-based innovation and improvement in social care. 

Why is it challenging to get evidence put into practice in adult social care? 

Implementing evidence is challenging in any public service, but there are particular practical and cultural issues in adult social care. The sector is fragmented and struggling with very severe funding and service pressures. That makes it difficult to create the time and headspace needed to think about innovation and bring about change.  

Historically, adult social care has had much less funding than other sectors, in terms of research, training and development, and innovation. It has much less pre-existing infrastructure. 

The neglect and fragmentation of the social care sector has been even more tragically exposed due to COVID-19. Our collective experiences during the pandemic have left everyone at the IMPACT centre more passionate than ever about the need for this work to support improvements in adult social care. 

How will the IMPACT centre support implementation of evidence? 

The centre will be very hands-on, embedded in front-line practice and the realities of policy. We are an implementation centre, not a research centre. We’ll be working alongside local services and practitioners, to learn together about how best to make use of evidence in practice and the difference that can make. We will share the lessons learned to influence national policy and practice, so everyone benefits. 

We’re also hoping to build the sector’s capacity to work with evidence. We want to learn about what helps and what hinders when you’re trying to implement evidence and bring about change in adult social care. 

Adult social care has a very wide range of stakeholders. How will you work across the sector in delivering your mission? 

First of all, the definition of evidence we propose is broad and inclusive. We’re interested in different types of research evidence and also the lived experience of people who use services and of carers, as well as the practice wisdom of front-line staff.  

Secondly, we will include the full range of social care stakeholders in our work. That means including voices that are seldom heard and groups that don’t normally take part in these kinds of debates.  

The centre is commissioned in three phases over 7 years, and this year we’re in a co-development phase. We’ll be consulting the sector and exploring how best we can use this investment to work alongside what already works well, fill key gaps and make a real difference. There’s an establishment phase in 2022 and a delivery phase from 2023 onwards.  

In June 2021, we’ll launch a national survey and later in the year we’ll host five IMPACT Assemblies. These will bring together groups of service users, carers, practitioners, providers, commissioners and researchers, to help us work through the detail of our workplan and maximise our contribution.  

Our Lived Experience Engagement Lead will work across the UK to make links with user- and carer-led organisations. We are also led by a broad consortium made up of policy, practice and academic partners, including people with experience of using services and organisations working with carers and front-line practitioners.  

How will you approach working with different national contexts?   

Being UK-wide is important to us. We want to be genuinely embedded in the realities and policy contexts of the four nations and to share learning across the UK.  

The five assemblies will be spread geographically; one each in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and two in England. On our leadership team, we have national leads who will be key figures in each of the four nations. They will bring together the assemblies and tailor the centre’s work to the different policy contexts.  

With devolution, we have four natural experiments, and an unprecedented opportunity to share good practice and to learn with and from each other. 

What do you see as the role of people who access social care? 

It’s really important that people who use adult social care can share their experiences of existing care and systems, and their aspirations. We’re focusing on this through our Lived Experience Engagement Lead, the survey and our assemblies. We also have people with lived experience in our leadership team and our broader consortium.  

We plan to work with people who use services and with carers, to develop a co-production strategy and structure for the centre. We want this approach to be built into the fabric of how we do things. 

We see the IMPACT centre as an adult social care centre, but one that is conscious of the relationships with other services and sectors, such as children’s services, health and housing. In the words of one of the people using services who helped to shape proposals for the centre, ‘good support isn’t just about services – it’s about having a life.’ 

How would you like people to get involved? 

We’d like everyone involved in social care to be able to engage with the work of the centre and inform its development. 

Our national survey launches in June, online, with hard copies available if people need them. It will also be possible to fill it in on behalf of a group, and the survey will be available in easy read and in various languages. If you’d like to be sent the survey when it launches, please email impactcentre@contacts.bham.ac.uk with the subject line ‘IMPACT survey.’  

We’ll be recruiting to our assemblies in the summer and we’re also keen to meet organisations across the adult social care sector, so we’ll be attending leadership meetings, workshops and speaking at events.  

Find out more about the IMPACT centre

 

This content originally featured in our email newsletter, which explores perspectives and expert opinion on a different health or health care topic each month.

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