Advancing business innovation and skills development in the home care sector

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Social Sciences Research Institutes

Abstract

Focusing on the UK's growing but highly fragmented home care (HC) market, this fellowship aims to strengthen and enhance HC businesses' offer of sustainable quality HC services, by addressing skill levels in lagging areas and encourage growth across the UK care economy and understanding current business models. Advancing business innovation and skills development in the HC sector has the potential to contribute to Pillars 1 (Investing in Science, research and innovation), 2 (Developing Skill), 4 (Supporting Businesses to Start up and Grow) and 9 (Driving Growth across the Whole Country) of the Industrial Strategy.

Pillar 1: There is an opportunity to increase competitiveness in the home care sector by understanding the current business models and developing more sustainable ones that will attract investment and commercialisation. The effective adoption of new business models is just as important as new technologies to improve competitive advantage in the sector.

Pillar 2: Health and social care employers report a comparatively large skills gap in their workforce (19%, compared with 15% in all sectors). Skills in communication, mathematics and technology have become essential for the HC worker's role, yet these are lagging in many areas of the UK. This research aims to help businesses assess and understand the skills needed in their workforce and raise the skills level of social care staff.

Pillar 4: The ability of businesses to innovate and grow depends on creating the conditions for companies to invest for the long term and developing the management skills needed to capitalise on these opportunities. This research aims to build understanding of what motivates, assists and hinders HC businesses to start up, establish and grow and help businesses identify and address their need for management and other skills, e.g. in assessing technology needs; working with care partners; advertising, marketing and costing their HC offer to people needing care and their families; building teams, managing quality, and organising their workforce.

Pillar 9: By studying businesses operating in different places (e.g. urban/rural; affluent/deprived), this research will build knowledge on the flexibilities and variations HC sector businesses need to recruit staff and build their customer base throughout, or in target regions of, the UK. By working with organisations operating UK-wide, it will examine how they manage and adapt their approach for different localities, e.g. in regions facing lower levels of inward investment, with low productivity, or lagging skill levels. Implementing the innovation-oriented research and engaging industrial partners.

The research will include several short periods placements with different home care provider businesses, to build trust and a holistic understanding of its vision, strategy and operational constraints. Working with HC industry bodies and with specific partner companies (selected for their potential to yield insight into their business model and offer to customers, and to how this has been configured and experienced as part of their growth or expansion strategy), the fellowship aims to: (a) analyse the challenges these businesses face in developing, extending and sustaining their business models and configuring the provision and delivery of quality care services; (b) assess how they change in response to forces and conditions affecting the HC market; (c) examine how they evaluate and address workforce and management skills needs; (d) produce a robust understanding of the business environments in which quality-orientated innovative HC businesses are operating, set out in concise reports accessible to key industry stakeholders; (e) examine different industry perspectives on the business benefits of innovating in the wider care economy, with the aim of building a 'business case' for extending innovation to long-standing, as well as start-up, HC companies.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?
Leaders in new and innovating home care businesses and infrastructure organisations will be the most direct beneficiaries from this project. Some of these businesses have already been identified and agreed to fully cooperate with resources in advance, as specified in the attached letters of support and pathways to impact statement. Other potential beneficiaries will be identified in a consultation with a major home care association that holds the membership of several independent home care businesses. This research also has the potential to impact a much wider range of other beneficiaries such as policy advisors, home care services and care providers. It is also potentially of interest to policy makers working on issues of home care as innovative and emerging business models will have a direct economic and political impact in the wider economy.

How will they benefit from this research?
There is the potential for a direct economic impact for the direct beneficiaries of this project. An in-depth understanding of the value proposition of their current business models and potential to create a new typology for emergent models. There is a strong potential for social impact. The wider public, and in particular those providing and using care services, will be able to learn from structured and informed reports from the projects findings.
From the project's outset, communication will be set up via discussions through a dedicated twitter account where discussions with interested partners and the wider public can engage through digital activities. Digital activities are not only of ever-increasing importance to society at large but have proved particularly important within home and social care communities where access and mobility issues mean the internet is an ideal vehicle for communication.
Contributions to highly respected journals through articles and publications in sector-specific magazines and online press will be used to disseminate findings. A research network will be convened through series of engagement and action-plan workshops where industrial partners and academics can collaborate and engage in discussions around the challenges facing the home care sector, particularly on how emerging business models will impact economic outputs and affect the delivery and of wellbeing to home care users.

How will relationships with industrial partners be developed and sustained
One of the ways of in-depth engagement with industrial partners is to problematize their challenges, one of them being how they view innovation in the sector and how this inform and impacts their business models. By understating their frustrations and challenges, it will become easier to engage with partners and keep them interested in updates and project developments. Segregating industrial partners into different tiers would also be a good way to organise communication with various partners. The following is proposed:
Tier 1 partners - these are the most engaged partners, which will become part of the main primary data collection. These partners will become part of a forum that will meet regularly for project updates and to guide next stages. Impact and stakeholder workshops will bring these partners to regular engagement with the project throughout its lifecycle.
Tier 2 partners - these partners will receive regular updates and invites to key workshops and briefings.
Tier 3 partners - these partners form the wider audience that will benefit from projects outputs but do not necessarily require constant engagement or perhaps will be part of specific project outcomes. These can include policy makers or home care users. These partners would receive occasional updates and newsletters, and would be better suited on social media discussions through the twitter page.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Some of the most significant achievements from this award relate to emerging and disruptive business models of home care for older people in England.
These include: uberisation, live-in; preventative; social enterprises, self-managed teams; community-based and integrated health and social care models.
These models offer alternative value propositions to the current dominant time-and-task model of care.
Implications: outcomes rather than task-centred approach, flexible care plan arrangements, more efficient deployment of workforce, holistic care & enhanced service user experience enabled by partnerships with other organisations.



To what extent were the award objectives met? If you can, briefly explain why any key objectives were not met.
How might the findings be taken forward and by whom?
Exploitation Route These models can have an impact on social services and social policy. There are implications to the market such as the outcomes approach to care and the offer of more flexible care plans that take into account personalisation, choice and wellbeing of service users and care workers.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Other

 
Description • The professionalization of the care workforce. Poor pay and working conditions have not helped to recruit and retain good quality staff, with many home care providers and care homes finding it difficult to maintain a stable workforce. With this in mind, I have started looking at how we can change the perception of care work to encourage more people to consider this as a viable career option. One way to begin to lift the status of paid care work would be to initiate a national body for Care Workers. This would provide a registration system, training and CPD which would be portable among care providers and help to avoid unnecessary retraining when someone moves companies. Making care work a recognisable profession would bring much improvement to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, as it did in other sectors such as nursing. The nursing profession flourished when, in 1860, Florence Nightingale opened the very first nursing school in London, which was known as the Florence Nightingale School for Nurses. Since then, in 1916, the Royal College of Nursing was founded, and has been supporting nurses and promoting the vital importance of nursing staff. This professional organisation began with just 34 members and now evolved into the largest professional association and union for nursing staff in the world with more than 435,000 members. • Sustainably scaling up my industrial partners' businesses by proposing specific areas that can benefit from innovation or innovative approaches. The three broad areas that we are looking at are: configuration, customer experience and offering. This will make a difference for the home care providers that I'm working with as it will offer them opportunities to reflect and adopt specific innovations in different areas of their business models. For both impact projects, I'm working closely with home care entrepreneurs and organisations, as well as specialist trainers for care workers. Via action-research, I'm using a constant enquire where I support the identification of areas that need improvement or innovation.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description An Inquiry Report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Care
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
 
Description Policy Brief: Ageing well at home
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
URL http://circle.group.shef.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/SC-Policy-Perspective-Ageing-Well-in-Place...
 
Description Domiciliary Care Models for an ageing population. Sheffield - UFMG
Amount £2,413 (GBP)
Organisation Worldwide Universities Network 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2020 
End 07/2020
 
Description Project Code 159221
Amount £3,600 (GBP)
Funding ID Project Code 159221 
Organisation University of Sheffield 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 03/2019
 
Description WUN Collaboration Fund with Sydney University and University of New South Wales
Amount £700 (GBP)
Organisation Worldwide Universities Network 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 03/2019
 
Description Care workforce professionalization 
Organisation Careerforce New Zealand
Country New Zealand 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Workforce strategy for care workers in the UK
Collaborator Contribution Workforce professionalisation process in New Zealand
Impact Best practice examples for workforce strategy creation.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Care workforce strategy 
Organisation Carers UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are developing a care workforce strategy that involves the contribution of several academics, practitioners, policymakers and government organisations. The aim is to influence and change regulations that improve job conditions and recognitions of the care workforce in England.
Collaborator Contribution We are developing a care workforce strategy that involves the contribution of several academics, practitioners, policymakers and government organisations. The aim is to influence and change regulations that improve job conditions and recognitions of the care workforce in England.
Impact No outcomes yet.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Care workforce strategy 
Organisation National Association of Care and Support Workers
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are developing a care workforce strategy that involves the contribution of several academics, practitioners, policymakers and government organisations. The aim is to influence and change regulations that improve job conditions and recognitions of the care workforce in England.
Collaborator Contribution We are developing a care workforce strategy that involves the contribution of several academics, practitioners, policymakers and government organisations. The aim is to influence and change regulations that improve job conditions and recognitions of the care workforce in England.
Impact No outcomes yet.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Care workforce strategy 
Organisation Skills for Care
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are developing a care workforce strategy that involves the contribution of several academics, practitioners, policymakers and government organisations. The aim is to influence and change regulations that improve job conditions and recognitions of the care workforce in England.
Collaborator Contribution We are developing a care workforce strategy that involves the contribution of several academics, practitioners, policymakers and government organisations. The aim is to influence and change regulations that improve job conditions and recognitions of the care workforce in England.
Impact No outcomes yet.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Innovating for an Ageing Society 
Organisation Innovation Caucus
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Collaborations and discussions on Healthy Ageing challenge, creating healthy & active places and supporting social connections.
Collaborator Contribution Discussion to identify and articulate what the social science contributions might look like in relation to one of the common themes, in preparation for potential bids, and shared findings from current projects across the University of Sheffield.
Impact Identification of common areas of research interests, and shared networks that led to further partnerships with academics and practitioners.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Care Conversations 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact around 50 people attended this seminar at Oxford University on Innovation in Home Care. In this seminar, my colleague and I presented the latest findings of our research projects to academics, members of the public and businesses. There were very engaged conversations, questions and follow up requests after the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Care show expert panels on workforce 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to participate on 2 expert panels during the Care Show in Birmingham, one on "Making Homecare a career of choice" and the other one on "The future of the workforce". Both panels involved questions from the chair and the audience. Afterwards, audience members approached me to learn more about research in this area, best practice examples and requested further collaborations with my project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description DWP Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Sheffield Solutions Seminars are based on Department of Work and Pensions. These lunchtime seminars are part the Sheffield Solutions series to bring together Academics, Policy makers and practitioners to develop networks and better understand Policy issues. Issues around different models of care were presented, which generated discussion on best practice ideas and how this evidence can be used to influence policy changes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Impact Blog Post 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Blog post about impact and its role in research engagement with industry
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://circle.group.shef.ac.uk/2018/06/14/meettheteamdrkarlazimpel-leal/
 
Description Public lecture at RMIT 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture on emergent home care models in England and current state of workforce. The lecture was attended by academics, researchers and practicioners in social sciences, housing, environmental sciences and managament. It sparked questions and discussions afterwards, and some attendees have followed up by emails and other meetings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description The future of care & impressions from the Care England 2018 Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Blog reviewing the current state of social care in the UK and also a review of the Care England conference, attended by over 200 participants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://circle.group.shef.ac.uk/2018/11/28/care-england-conference-2018/
 
Description Visit to international partners in Australia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact over 30 participants from academia, no-profit and professional practitioners participated in a week long event of activities, including workshops, seminars and a conference. The objective was to learn how social care and home care specifically is being done in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand. The intense workshops revealed many challenges faced by these countries, some very similar to the UK. There was various opportunities for future collaborations and several have been arranged, such as co-authorship in Policy Press Short series, participations in symposium(Transforming Care conference, 2019), Sustainable Care conference in 2020 and many comparative studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshop with Careerforce and Ministry of Health in New Zealand 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop with Careerforce, Ministry of Health and unions. Careerforce have been the key driving organisation in the process of professionalising the health and care workforce in New Zealand, and they are considered to have a best practice example of training and development. The workshop included their development and product development staff and external stakeholders as cited before. It included presentations from myself on the current state of the care workforce in the UK, and they presented on the care workforce in New Zealand, focusing on what's changed since the process of professionalisation started (registration, training framework, minimum working hours, travel pay, etc). There were also discussions on how the training framework was developed, how it's delivered and what the drivers and challenges for change have been. Furthermore, there were talks on how these changes have affected the wellbeing of care workers and the quality of care for service users.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020