Sustainable social care programme
Sustainable development and social care
Communities create the right conditions for improvements in physical health, mental health and general wellbeing by being connected, sustainable and resilient to changing times and climates.A vision for healthy, sustainable, resilient communities: Sustainable development strategy for the health and care system (SDU 2014)
As with all public services, social care is affected by the major social, economic and environmental challenges of our time. That is, an ageing and dynamically diverse population, climate change, energy insecurity, financial instability and increases in health inequalities and issues such as obesity, mental health, alcohol misuse, chronic illnesses and complex conditions such as dementia. The most vulnerable are the most affected. The premise of the Sustainable Social Care Programme is that a successful response to these challenges will recognise and address social, economic and environmental factors simultaneously. This will not only prevent future harm but also help make people, communities and services more resilient, and improve health and wellbeing for all.
SCIE's sustainable social care programme – first phaseOpen
The first phase of the programme comprised two projects to scope and research what sustainable development means to the social care sector, and how widely the impacts of climate change are understood.
The Sustainable Systems of Social Care research project analysed the conditions necessary for a sustainable social care system in a given community or setting. The Institute for Sustainability, Health and Environment (ISHE) at the University of the West of England mapped key strategies, policies, frameworks and initiatives that relate to the sustainability agenda and how these relate to adult social care. This mapping was supported by case study work to explore the criteria for, facilitators of and challenges to sustainable models of social care. From this, the research team developed key themes and recommendations for commissioners and other audiences across the sector. Click here to see SCIE Report 35: Sustainable systems of social care.
The Sustainable Social Care Learning Network, convened by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), explored the challenges and opportunities for sustainable social care as experienced and understood by local authorities themselves. Senior officers, elected members and representatives of partner organisations came together to explore issues around sustainable commissioning and engagement; resilience, adaptation and climate change; the physical environment and its role in sustainable social care; and personalisation. The Network considered how strategic commissioning, procurement, design and planning, and joint working could become more sustainable. The report of the learning network is published by SCIE as SCIE Report 33: Independence, community and environment.
SCIE's sustainable social care programme – second phase Open
The second phase of the programme built on this work. In particular, it developed the themes of personalisation and sustainability, the role of people who use services as environmental leaders, risk and resilience, the connection between financial and environmental performance, and ethics.
Personalisation and stimulating the market for more sustainable care services
SCIE’s research Sustainable systems of social care identified Bristol as one of the few locations where a holistic approach to sustainable development is in evidence. To build on this, SCIE and the council explored, with local residents and community groups, what environmental sustainability means to them and how this can help shape the future of providing personalised services. For further information about this project, see our dedicated web page Bristol City Council: a case study in sustainable social care where you can also download our report and a guide to community engagement based on the work in Bristol.
Environmental and financial sustainability
SCIE commissioned the King's Fund to research how action on sustainability can contribute to the quality, productivity and prevention agendas. This work was conducted in parallel with National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded research focusing on healthcare. Sustainable health and social care: Connecting environmental and financial performance (King’s Fund, 2012) provides an overview of current knowledge about the environmental impacts of health and social care and examines the evidence for a connection between sustainability, productivity improvement and other system objectives. The report urges policy-makers to remove barriers that discourage organisations from developing more sustainable approaches and to explore the policy changes needed to create a more enabling environment. A more detailed version of the report, Environmentally sustainable health and social care: Scoping review. Final report (NIHR SDO Programme, 2012), focuses specifically on the question of what research is needed to support the development of environmentally sustainable health and social care
The ethics of sustainable health and social care
With multidisciplinary bioethics research centre Ethox, SCIE initiated work to devise a framework for decision-making which addresses the ethical challenges posed by a sustainable development approach to health and social care. The work spans questions regarding health and environmental inequalities, inter-generational justice, and how to weight different social values in funding and policy decisions. The ethics of sustainable health and social care: towards a framework for decision-making is the first ever attempt to tackle the potential ethical dilemmas associated with factoring environmental outcomes into different levels of health and social care decision-making. The report reviews the environmental and climate change ethics literatures in conjunction with health and social care ethical principles; it also summarises the deliberations of two expert seminars convened to help devise and review these principles and propose a way forward.
Climate change, risk and resilience
For SCIE’s work on climate change, risk and resilience, visit our web pages on climate change, carbon reduction and managing the risks to people and services.
These and other publications can be found on our Resources page.