As the needs and demands of adult social care increase, there are a growing number of innovative models and approaches trying to tackle the challenge and increasing policy interest in what works and what doesn’t across the devolved nations. Recent research has focused on how to make better use of high-quality, practice-based evidence to develop and scale-up innovation in adult social care, to develop financially sustainable models that work well for everyone and to build capacity and skills in the adult social care workforce.

In 2021, the outcome of a two-year National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-funded project to prioritise innovations in adult social care for evaluation was published. The top five identified were: care coordination for dementia in the community, family group conferencing, Greenwich prisons social care, local area coordination and MySense.Ai (a wellbeing analytics platform). Short term, COVID-19 has catalysed some effective use of technology. NHS England’s Accelerated Access Collaborative and Beneficial Changes Network are working together to understand which innovations that have been initiated or accelerated by the pandemic response could be spread more widely. To support innovation, there have been calls for better ease of access, comparability, consistency and comprehensiveness in adult social care data across the four nations. Adult social care leaders have called for a national workforce strategy/people plan for adult social care to include effective workforce planning across the whole social care workforce and expansion of the workforce in roles which support the growth of innovative models of support.

A POSTnote in this area will present an overview of innovation in adult social care. It will provide case studies from key areas of innovation (including digital innovation) across expansion of services, coordination and integration of services, implementation of community-based care, and employment and professional training. It will also review evidence from across the four nations on infrastructure for supporting successful and sustainable innovation in adult social care. It will include research on data-driven innovation and workforce aspects of innovation infrastructure, including future projections of necessary skill mix/ staffing numbers.

Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash

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