Working with the NIHR Delivery Research Programme

A paper setting out a framework for collaboration between NIHR Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) and IMPACT was discussed at the HSDR Programme Oversight Committee in April 2022. The principles for closer working to promote and enhance social care research were welcomed by the HSDR Programme Director and committee. The Committee endorsed the approach, setting out how this informal collaboration might work and key touchpoints where there would be mutual benefit in close working to maximise HSDR outputs and reach wider social care audiences. This was seen as an exciting opportunity for the Programme.

It was agreed that information on current studies in the pipeline could be shared regularly with Jon Glasby and staff at IMPACT, perhaps on a quarterly basis. It was suggested that pilot work would be done with early engagement with teams and projects on linked studies on family group conferencing and support for people with learning disabilities/autism leaving long-stay hospitals which are likely to be of great interest to social care practitioners and service users. 

Jon Glasby is also linked into other parts of NIHR, including the School for Social Care Research, Research for Social Care programme and the NIHR Centre for Engagement and Dissemination. Developing ways of working with HSDR programme may be a useful pilot arrangement which could be the model for other parts of NIHR.

This paper was then discussed at the IMPACT Leadership Team meeting in June 2022.  With a few minor changes in wording or emphasis, IMPACT would be keen to pursue all the opportunities below as a way of supporting NIHR as it extends its social care expertise and presence, and as a way of supporting a number of IMPACT’s key objectives.

Frameworks for working with NIHR

Background

IMPACT is the UK centre funded by the ESRC and Health Foundation to implement evidence in adult social care.  Following a scoping phase with surveys and Assemblies to identify pressing topics and ways of working, the new centre will enter a steady state for five years from 2023-27. After this, the aspiration is that the centre, or key elements of its work, becomes a more permanent feature of the social care landscape (future business model tbc).

NIHR Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme is a national funding programme awarding more than £20m a year for research on the quality and organisation of services in health and social care. Projects relevant to social care range from evidence synthesis on strengths-based approaches to social work to ambitious evaluations of family group conferences for vulnerable adults. 

Suggested areas for joint working and synergy

  • Anticipating research pipeline and maximising funded outputs

HSDR has a number of projects underway in the area of adult social care. This includes £7m+ investment in local adult social care research partnerships around the country, projects on self-neglect, care workforce and support for older carers. In the first instance, this could be a pilot for one or two research teams and projects to work with IMPACT, with IMPACT delivery staff working to implement findings from these studies. This would need to depend on their being an appropriate ‘fit’ between forthcoming research and IMPACT’s priorities for 2023-25 (to be submitted to IMPACT’s funders in September 2022). NIHR studies would also need to be working with a similar definition of evidence (which IMPACT defines in terms of insights from different types of research, the lived experience of people drawing on care and support and carers, and the practice knowledge of social care staff).

  • Identifying gaps/research needs

IMPACT’s broad and deep engagement will help to identify priority areas for future research. This is already evident from outputs from the survey/Assemblies which highlighted the importance of research in areas like prevention and wellbeing, asset-based approaches, carers’ health and wellbeing, and support for people who work in social care. Having chosen a series of key topics for its forthcoming work programme, IMPACT also goes through a ‘triage’ process to make sure that there is enough evidence with which to work, and checking for gaps – in either research, lived experience or practice knowledge. HSDR could work with IMPACT and constituent partners to work up briefs in priority areas, identifying important areas of research interest and important gaps in knowledge and framing calls in ways that will resonate with social care researchers and communities. 

  • Building capacity and sharing expertise

Consider opportunities to develop and strengthen capacity and community in adult social care research. Some approaches for embedded research and capacity building are being tested in the new HSDR adult social care partnership research awards, as well as particular opportunities through NIHR Academy Incubator for Social Care. There may be other opportunities – for instance, shadowing or sharing resources around review and research methods through the rapid evaluation and synthesis centres. This is a key priority for IMPACT as one of its four objectives is around building capacity in the workforce, and there may be scope to explore for IMPACT to support the local stakeholders with whom it is working on the ground to encourage stronger applications for existing NIHR capacity building schemes and helping to create a pipeline of credible candidates for these opportunities.

HSDR would also benefit from the expertise and networks of IMPACT to strengthen funding committee and reviewer base to make the right decisions with the right expertise for new projects.

Next steps

  • IMPACT and HSDR Programme staff to meet to take forward above areas for development – with quarterly meetings suggested going forwards
  • There is a particular opportunity to build in 1-2 topics from current NIHR projects into the draft work programme which IMPACT submits to funders in September 2022
  • IMPACT and HSDR to explore scope to publish a statement about this relationship/ways of working

Thinking about 2023

In 2022, we’ve been getting up and running as a national centre and testing our four delivery models via a series of pilot projects across different parts of the UK.  In 2023, we want to work in even more places and cover a broader range of topics.  We’re still working on the detail of this, but we hope to be able to go out to the sector in late 2022 with an ‘expression of interest’ – looking for partner organisations who might be interested in hosting future projects. 

Topics for 2023

The topics for 2023 would be based on the priorities which came out of our national survey and from our Assemblies.  In particular, we’ll focus on topics which:

  1. Make a real difference
  2. Tackle inequalities
  3. Make good use of scarce resources
  4. Have enough evidence for us to work with (where there isn’t enough evidence we’re trying to make sure that we feed this back to partner organisations so that they can try to fill these gaps as quickly as possible)

This is likely to include topics such as:

  • Prevention and well-being
  • Assets-based and person-centred care
  • Carers’ health and well-being
  • Support for people who work in social care

Identifying Partner Organisations

When we identify sites that might want to work with us, we want to get a real mix (e.g. in terms of geography, and the nature and needs of the local population).  We also want to make sure that we don’t just work with organisations that usually volunteer for these opportunities – but with a wide range of people.  This might include small, innovative community organisations; user- and carer-led organisations; and services that are really struggling and wouldn’t usually be able to think about taking part in something like this.

To help people plan, we’ll be clear about the funding and support we can provide, but also about the things we’ll need in return (for example, we’ll want sites that are committed to co-production and to sharing learning with others). 

Expressing interest

There will be more information later in the year – but please start thinking about whether your organisation might be interested in expressing an interest. You can sign up to our newsletter and follow us on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn) to be among the first to find out more.

IMPACT Network is officially live

We’re mid-way through our 2022 Establishment phase, and deep in the middle of setting up pilot projects to test our four delivery models. We are delighted to share that our first IMPACT Network has been set up.

IMPACT Networks are one of the four delivery models IMPACT is piloting to achieve change in adult social care. Our first network is looking at choice and control for people with learning disabilities and/or mental health issues in supported living. Our Network Coordinators are:

What are IMPACT Networks?

Networks are being piloted across the UK, with local networks in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England, all focusing on the same issues. The aims are:

  • To improve practice and outcomes in adult social care at the local level and solve common, yet complex challenges.
  • To bring together practical solutions at the community level to create solutions that can be scaled up to help inspire and inform change across the UK.

Each local network, made up of 8-10 people – people with experience of care and support, carers, front-line staff, funders/decision-makers, and relevant service providers – will meet four times over a period of six months. They will discuss a particular issue using materials provided in advance, such as findings from research, practice knowledge, and lived experience. Members will share their experiences and learning and suggest practical solutions.

They will feedback to the Networks Lead, Kate Hamblin, and Networks Manager Amber Cagney, and learning will be shared with the other local groups working on the same issues, creating a network of networks. The aim is to produce an action plan to take a particular issue forward and enact change.

The inspiration

IMPACT Networks were inspired by one of our Critical Friends: Nka, the Swedish Family Care Competence Centre. For many years, Nka has worked with ‘Blended Learning Networks’ – a method where people with a common interest and from various backgrounds work towards a common goal. They learn from each other and share experiences and convert research results into practice and policy. The networks always focus on carers, but each local network is based on a specific theme of interest to key stakeholder groups, including informal carers and their organisations

A local network consists of 10-15 people – carers, health and social care practitioners, decision-makers, local politicians – led by one or two members. The leaders of the local networks in turn have meetings with staff from Nka, forming a national network.

We were also inspired by Etienne Wenger, who in the field of education, developed the concept of communities of practice in organisations to solve common issues they were facing. Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning – they share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better through regular interaction.

Next step for our Network

The first Network meetings will take place in late July.

Amber Cagney has recently been appointed as the Networks Manager, and will be working closely with Kate. Maria Teresa Ferazzoli has also joined the team in Sheffield recently as the Project Officer. We will update our project page with updates from Kate and the team.

Demonstrator is officially live

In this blog, IMPACT’s Robin Miller and Sarah McLaughlin celebrate the set up of the first IMPACT Demonstrator

We’re mid-way through our Establishment phase, and deep in the middle of setting up our initial pilot projects to test our four delivery models. We are delighted to share that our first IMPACT Demonstrator has been set up.

Demonstrator background

This Demonstrator will be based in Mid & East Antrim, where a successful asset-based project is already in place. IMPACTAgewell® was introduced in 2017 by the Mid & East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP) in partnership with local health and social care organisations through funding from the Dunhill Medical Trust (a member of the IMPACT consortium). Its innovative model includes linking people to community resources, multi-disciplinary locality hubs to bring together professionals in a locality on a regular basis and ‘funded’ social prescriptions which enable resources to flow to voluntary and community organisations.

IMPACT Demonstrators will explore how we can use evidence to address major strategic issues for adult social care. Improvement ‘coaches’, including people with lived and/or practice experience) will work in local services to facilitate an evidence-informed change, support evaluation and work with national policy and practice to embed any lessons learned.

Asset-based approaches

The first Demonstrator will be focused on ‘asset-based approaches’ and in particular how older people can have a better life via health and social services working in new ways with them and with the community and voluntary sector.

As well as learning from their success to date, the Demonstrator will work with IMPACTAgewell® to ensure that this approach is available to all older people in the local area. At present most, but not all, general practices participate, and therefore some older people are not able to benefit from the opportunity. Partial implementation is a common issue when introducing an innovation. The local community and voluntary-led partnership would like to examine how the engagement process can develop, and how they can encourage and support the engagement of all the services and professionals in the area. Doing so could ultimately lead to the scale and spread of the model to other areas.

Sarah has been appointed as the first improvement coach and the second post will shortly be advertised by the University of Ulster – we will share vacancies when they are made live. We will update our project page with updates from Robin, Sarah and the MEAAP team.