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Supporting Adult Social Care Innovation (SASCI)

Supporting Adult Social Care Innovation (SASCI)

Project website
Project status
Jacquetta Holder
PI Name
Dr Juliette Malley
Host institution
Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, London School of Economics
Institution web page
Team members
Dr Juliette Malley Professor Yvonne Birks Professor Annette Boaz Dr Kate Baxter Professor Ewan Ferlie Dr Jose-Luis Fernandez Professor Martin Knapp Jane Maddison Professor Jill Manthorpe Dr Joanna Marczak Sandra Paget Dr Carl Purcell Professor Gerald Wistow Raphael Wittenberg Dr Valentina Zigante Dr Jacquetta Holder
Funded by
Economic and Social Research Council, as part of UK Research and Innovation
Award Number




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Funding type


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Project Summary

Innovation or doing things differently is often seen as a solution to the problems facing adult social care today and for the foreseeable future. Adult social care might seem to be an area where new approaches will naturally flourish (e.g., competition between providers, different people paying, choice over types of care and provider). Yet, while there are many innovations and good evidence that some benefit people using care services, they do not spread rapidly and are often do not become mainstream. Many get abandoned, despite seeming promising.
There may be several reasons for this, but we are not sure what really stops good things being taken up. Compared to other parts of society, we do not know much about innovation in social care and why innovations do not spread. Many organisations and people offer to help with innovation, but we do not know much about what they do and how they do it, or what works. Overall, there has not been much effort to draw together experiences of innovating or changing things in adult social care to let people know what might help and avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’.
This is the reason for our proposed research. We want to support the adult social care sector to start up, implement, spread and scale-up affordable innovations that work well. We will produce: 1) new evidence about the process of innovating (doing things differently), what influences the process (what helps and what hinders), what helps people and systems change, what support is available to help people, and the sector’s experiences of and views about that support; 2) a theoretical framework (the ‘big idea’) for understanding social care innovation that will help to design, plan and learn about innovations; 3) an evidence-based discussion about innovation overall in the care sector and its prospects; 4) descriptions of types of social care innovations, including the people and organisations involved, and types of support for innovation.
If our research is to support social care to do things differently and better, then our findings need to be translated into actions. We will build and foster strong relationships with stakeholders (e.g. users/carers, care providers, local authorities) and work with them to design and choose the focus of the study and develop recommendations. Doing this, we will swap ideas and share learning, which should encourage use of the research. We will also ask people who have helped us with the research to tell us what they learnt, if/how they have used the findings, and what we could do better.
Innovation is a dynamic or changing process, involving many organisations and people. It needs to be understood in its particular context (e.g. support at home or a carers’ group). So, we will develop illustrations or case studies of innovations around selected topics (e.g. integrating systems, making the most of human resources (people), promoting choice and control) to explore the process in-depth. We will explore how individuals, organisations and the wider context all influence innovation. We will focus on parts of adult social care where there is potential for a lot of learning (e.g. research evidence and capacity, stakeholder networks and knowledge leaders, organisational characteristics, ‘misaligned’ or ‘perverse’ incentives around costs and benefits). To develop more general claims about what influences innovation and what are the necessary conditions for it to flourish, we will study different types of innovations and conduct a national survey to test findings from the case studies.
Informed and supported by strong and diverse user and carer involvement, our study should a) inform decision-making about how to foster the right conditions and policies for innovation to flourish in adult social care; b) inform the design and planning of innovations, work out what innovations are more likely to succeed, and gain learning from innovations; and c) provide evidence-based recommendations for policy, practice and research.

Outputs / expected Outputs

A range of communication and engagement outputs and activities are planned, and these will include engagement events, academic journal articles, blogs, targeted briefings and press/news articles to maximise communication with stakeholders and the public.


Output 1Valentina Zigante, Juliette Malley, Annette Boaz, Ewan Ferlie and Gerald Wistow (2022) How Can the Adult Social Care Sector Develop, Scale and Spread Innovations? A Review of the Literature from an Organisational Perspective, Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, London (PDF)

Output 2Manthorpe, J. (ed.) & Purcell, C. (ed.) What Can we Learn from the Innovation of The Care Certificate? An Online Witness Seminar, 14th March 2023, London: NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, The Policy Institute, King's College London. (published online 6 September 2023);

Output 3Jill Manthorpe, J (ed.) and Purcell, C. (ed.) How did Social Worker Registration in England Come About? An Online Witness Seminar, 27th March 2023, How did Social Worker Registration in England Come About? An Online Witness Seminar, 27th March 2023, London: NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, The Policy Institute, King's College London. (published online 6 September 2023);