Case studies for transforming social care

DHSC Social Care Innovation Network


The Social Care Innovation Network (SCIN) is a partnership between SCIE, TLAP and Shared Lives Plus, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Its purpose is to examine and promote ways in which innovative approaches to social care can flourish and develop. The network has brought together councils and organisations which provide care and support to people, citizens and national bodies to work collaboratively and creatively, in order to push the boundaries of what is possible.

What we did

The network aims to identify solutions to developing asset-based approaches and deliver two core aims:

  • to make visible and value the skills, knowledge, connections and potential in the community
  • to redress the balance between meeting needs and nurturing the strengths and resources of people.

In helping local areas find ways to scale innovation, the Network was asked to consider three areas:

  • Developing the asset-based areas model in more depth.
  • Re-designing commissioning so that it supports innovation by becoming more citizen led.
  • Taking self-directed support back to its roots so it affords authentic choice and control and enables people to connect and contribute.


The Network has produced a range of tools to support commissioners to deliver better commissioning, with a ten point action plan for local areas.

London Borough of Brent


The London Borough of Brent faces rising demand for adult social care from older adults and adults with learning disabilities. The authority has faced large cuts in funding over recent years, which have led to pressure on local voluntary sector and community services.

Whilst there is a strong commitment to improved outcomes, practice is often inconsistent and the systems, forms and processes often prevent efficient and productive practice.

SCIE were really critical in helping us to guide us through workshops towards developing an evidence based practice framework that staff actually believed in.

Georgina Diba, Head of Transformation and Principle Social Worker

What we did

SCIE worked with the leadership and front line staff for over 12 months to design and implement a new approach to practice for Brent.

  • Analysing the barriers to successful practice, including the processes, IT, care management system and approach to supervision.
  • Workshops with staff to co-produce a new vision and framework for practice that would lead to the creation of productive and well supported workers, freed up to deliver strengths based practice.
  • Provision of advice.
  • Tailored three-day training programme with all managers and frontline.


Brent has implemented the framework across all staff groups, and with partners in the wider community. The framework is being used to guide all training, policies and procedures.

London Borough of Bexley


Older woman and young girl drawing

Over a year’s period we provided flexible challenge and support as the council embarked on its ambitious transformation programme, with members and officers working to a clear person-centred direction, engaging voluntary and community groups in a range of ways including the transfer of some assessment activities and funding.  

What we did

We assisted by:

  • Specific best practice research, reviews and recommendations.
  • Workshops with senior and middle managers reviewing progress and helping identify next steps.
  • Support/challenge in meetings with members, community groups.
  • Critical friend in the development of some key reports.


The council was clear that real change and improvement was no quick tick box and that generating sustainable momentum behind the vision and way forward was in itself an important outcome. However they identified a number of individuals and families who felt that the emerging approach had made them feel more in control of their lives, with more options and choices regarding the type of support to best meet their needs.

The Council has transferred its front door and initial assessment functions to the voluntary and community sector. In the first year, this has reduced the spend on agency staff and freed up to £500,000. 

Surrey County Council


Since 2010 Surrey County Council has faced a reduction of more than £200 million in its core funding from central government. During the same period the council has seen significant increases in demand, not least for adult social care. The number of adults with a learning disability supported by the council increased from 2,573 to 3,760 (46 per cent) and the number of older people supported increased from 8,981 to 9,822 (9 per cent). This growth in social care packages is well above the average for councils in the South East.

The practice culture of the service did not place enough emphasis on recovery and independence and using personal and community assets. 

Surrey County Council has been pleased to engage SCIE as our improvement partner aiming at adding capacity, challenge, support, knowledge and expertise to our adults social care improvement journey. The partnership is shaping well and we all benefit from the open and engaging style SCIE is bringing, helping us build on areas of strength as well as known challenges.

Simon White, Executive Director Adult Social Care, Surrey County Council

What we did

SCIE worked with the leadership and front line staff for over 12 months to design and implement a new approach to practice

  • Analysing the barriers to successful practice, including the processes, IT, care management system and approach to supervision.
  • Workshops with staff to co-produce a new vision and framework for practice that would lead to the creation of productive and well supported workers, freed up to deliver strengths based practice.
  • Action learning sets to test and embed new ways of working, such as new first contact and assessment forms.
  • Training over 250 team managers and front line workers in strengths based practice.
  • Developing a codified workbook to support consistent and effective practice across the organisation.


Surrey County Council has developed an ambitious, and widely owned, improvement plan. Although this is a plan for the longer term, Surrey is already seeing benefits in terms of improved outcomes and reduced costs. For instance, it has seen more people who contact social care, receive the support they need in the community whilst demand for care packages and use of residential care have fallen.

Supporting Staffordshire County Council and CCGs


Older man with carer smiling

Staffordshire County Council and Clinical Commissioning Groups commissioned SCIE to develop an evidence-based joint strategy for the market management of residential and nursing care homes in Staffordshire.

It was crucial that the strategy was based on a good understanding of current strengths, opportunities and areas for improvement in Staffordshire, as well as the national evidence base and best practice examples, and was developed in a way that generated buy-in from a range of stakeholders.

What we did

The strategy and an associated action plan were therefore developed through:

  • Analysis of local, regional and national data to understand the current circumstances and future needs of the care home market in Staffordshire.
  • Engagement with nearly 60 local stakeholders including both local authority and CCG commissioners, provider organisations and carers.
  • A desk top review of best practice in care home commissioning, including in five comparator areas to identify areas of good practice and innovation that could be considered by Staffordshire.
  • Two system-wide workshops to develop and test the strategy.


The completed strategy identifies a number of strategic objectives for further developing joint market management of care homes.

Bi-Boroughs of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea


We led business case and benefits case management for the implementation of a digital front door platform to enable better demand management, better targeted assessment and care management and identify the investment and service benefits.

Alongside this, we helped shape the business for a NHS Digital grant to create a common data sharing platform around NHS, GPs and social care, working alongside Patients Know Best.


Our work helped shape and make the case for change to enable the Bi-boroughs adult social care to fully embrace digital technology through the digital front door to the future establishment of a Care eMarketplace.

Our benefits assessment and support to the bi-Boroughs unlocked £500,000 of investment in a new data sharing capability from NHS Digital and we supported the ongoing evaluation of this project. Already this platform has proved effective in meeting many information sharing challenges relating to COVID such as safe hospital discharge.

Health Education England


SCIE led a project with the British Association of Social Workers to explore in depth the digital capabilities of social workers and develop a national capabilities framework. The work involved a large scale survey, in depth case study work, online engagement with social workers and engagement with a national panel.


In March 2020 we published a national knowledge, skills and values framework setting out what social workers need to develop their use of digital technology in practice. It supports social workers to meet and adhere to the regulatory standards - The Professional Standards – developed by Social Work England, and sector-wide agreed levels of ethics and the Professional Capabilities Framework

This project demonstrates the immediate value of the work we are doing together on transforming health and care through making sure our staff have the digital capabilities and literacy, and it shows the way to a digital future for the health and care workforce, through education and training.

Patrick Mitchell, Director of Innovation and Transformation at Health Education England

Doncaster Council - Developing a new approach to access into adult social care

We want every person in Doncaster to live in the place they call home with the people and things that they love, in communities where they look out for one another, doing things that matter to them.

As part of work towards achieving this vision, Doncaster Council have commissioned SCIE to help them improve access to care and support in Doncaster.

Our work to date has involved:

  • Conducting interviews with a broad range of partners and stakeholders across health and social care
  • Designing and facilitating a series of workshops for staff and people with experience of seeking and drawing support, to map current and desired experiences and outcomes
  • Reviewing and analysing service data
  • Running workshops with people who draw on support to design co-design a new operating model for access.