SCIE opinion - 14 November 2011

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Photographs of Allan Bowman and Baroness Jane Campbell

Ten years of SCIE

Baroness Jane Campbell (Chair 2001 - 2006) and Allan Bowman (Chair 2006 - present), past and present Chairs at the Social Care Institute for Excellence

When SCIE says something works in social care, we say it with great confidence. This is because, in ten years, we've built up a broad, reliable and rigorous evidence base about what works to improve the lives of people who use services. Many people now use SCIE as a first point of reference and we like to think that was why we were created in 2001.

At its birth, SCIE secured firm foundations in user involvement. The principle informs the way that we research, design and develop all our work. We know that people don't see health and social services as “different things” and so we've concentrated on taking a holistic approach, which also cuts across both adults' and children's services.

People who use services often rely on public money and the support of others so that they can gain independence and self-determination. An increasing number are self-funders. However the care is paid for, over the decade, the genie has slowly come out of the bottle; it's now recognised more than ever that people who use services are the experts in their own situation.

So, in adult services, personalisation is the genie that's made an appearance over the decade; more people are taking control of the services they receive; they help to deliver them but they also design and evaluate them. But pressure needs to be kept up so that, in an era beset with financial problems, the foot isn't taken off the gas on the push to providing more personalised services.

Child protection remains a concern for society. SCIE has pioneered a new way of learning from practice in this area. Called Learning Together, it's a 'systems' model of organisational learning. It goes beyond identifying what happened towards explaining why it happened. The answers can generate new ideas about how to improve practice, and so help keep children safe.

There have been many technological changes over the last decade and SCIE has risen to the challenge. But we've also kept our feet on the ground. So, for instance, we tweet regularly, but we still have products available in print editions. So, our At a glance briefings, for instance, are always popular, giving good practice tips at every turn.

Perhaps one of the big changes in the way we tell people about our work is via Social Care TV. Launched just over two years ago, the channel now has almost 90 films, from safeguarding adults and children to delivering the Mental Capacity Act, from films about dementia to advice on supporting people with autism.

Here's to the next decade. Yes, there will be challenges, but we are ready to take these on. After all, with more people likely to need social care and support, it's even more important that good practice is discovered, analysed and publicised.

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