Monday 28 April 2008

Accolades 2008 - nominate by Friday 2 May 2008!


...still time to enter!

Nominations close FRIDAY 2 MAY 2008

Read on to learn more about the many benefits of winning an Accolade and to get some useful tips for nominating!

Dear Colleague

To achieve an Accolade proves an organisation's success in achieving the highest standards of workforce development within social care.

If you or someone you know has not already done so, then its not too late to get involved in the Accolades 2008. So please feel free to circulate this information to anyone who you think may be interested in participating.

Now in its sixth year, the Accolades has grown in stature to become one of the most prestigious and enjoyable events of the social care calender.

There isn't much time though as nominations close on Friday 2 May 2008 and completed nomination forms need to be returned by this time.

People can get involved by nominating an employer or an organisation for a range of categories. Details of these can be found in the Nomination Booklet, which is attached at the end of this e-mail.

The benefits of winning an Accolade are many.

For those people who use the services provided by an Accolade winner:

* satisfaction that the award is a reflection of the efforts made to improve the life of people who use services, by providing opportunities for workforce development of those supporting them

For an Accolade winning organisation:

* pride

* good for business

* opportunity to evaluate your own progress and achievements

* external validation of your work - acknowledgement of what you believe you do well (even the every day things)and is good practice, is confirmed by those at the forefront of the social care sector

* increased recognistion, credibility and reputation

* free publicity - national and local press, sector publications and journals, radio and television coverage

* opportunity to attend a prestigious national event and celebrate what is good in social care workforce development with other leading organisations

For individuals/teams employed by an Accolade winner:

* personal jubilation

* recognition and reward for your efforts

* opportunity to attend the gala event

Top tips for completing the nomination form:

* approach it as a team (where possible) - use the different skills that each of you may have

* consider what you do well in relation to the different categories

* consider what are your achievements or practices that you are proud of

* decide on which category to enter

* take time to study the criteria

* make notes of policies, systems, procedures, implementation and outcomes relating to the criteria

* decide on how you are going to present the information within the nomination e.g. chronological order of how and when systems/policies etc. were implemented in practice

* always provide evidence in support of the statements you make e.g. give examples of what or how you are doing things - don't just state you are doing them

* always remember what your work means to people who use your services and what benefits they get from it

* make the most of the word limit you have available (most Accolade winners would say that the hardest part of completing the nomination form was keeping within the word limit!)

Many thanks to Joy Johnson, HICA Care Homes & Trevor Hewitt, Barnsley Adult Social Services - Accolade 2006 & 2007 winners, for sharing the benefits that their organisations have enjoyed from winning an Accolade and for passing on their top tips for entering.

Further information in support of the Accolades are attached below.

This includes:

- a Nomination Booklet


- Category Information Sheets (for all categories) <>

- Nomination Form A (to be used for nominations for categories 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 12) <>

- Nomination Form B (to be used for nominations for categories 3, 6 & 11 only) <> To request hard copies of the nomination materials please e-mail

or call 0113 241 1275.

Thank you.

Social Enterprise publication

Marie has come up trumps again!
Here's a link to a publication which may be useful to people from 1 March 2007. Social Enterprises are a special vehicle (organisation) designed with asset locks (the assets such as buildings and vehicles can't be sold to make a profit for individuals) and charitable aims, and enjoy special tax status with HM Revenue & Customs. This means that public sector services can be transferred into a Social Enterprise in their entirety, allowing the same people to continue to run them without the risk that the new "owners" will sell the lot and retire to Barbados. It also means that a private company can't buy the whole thing, break it up and sack everyone, then take out a fat profit. I'm chair of one down in London. This charitable aims and no profit thing means that venture capitalists aren't interested in helping which can make it difficult to raise funds, so the Government has set up special funds to help startups. Happy to talk about this if it is useful

Sunday 27 April 2008

How to Measure?

All too often, new initiatives (new ways of delivering care or support) can't show whether they have made a difference because nobody measured.
Why is this? Some sort of number-phobia, a philosophical view that since the service is somehow sacred, to measure and show "this much benefit", or "that much cost-effectiveness" would taint the service delivered. But it can be really crippling when you go to a backer and ask for resources to build or expand your service.
What criteria should you apply?
You need measures that mean something to:
  • the organisation which will provide the funding (so they can see what they are getting for their money)
  • the person or group receiving help (the voice of the user is very important in demonstrating whether your service delivers a benefit)
  • the team delivering the service (typically these will be the ones gathering the information, and if they aren't motivated then they won't put the effort in to collecting the measures)
Uner ideal circumstances you would get everyone to decide the measures they would like to see, and then discuss how practical it is to collect these. Ideal doesn't often happen, and in the end the team collecting the measures have to agree to collect them, so as a shortcut can I recommend getting the staff together to decide? They will typically understand the user perspective closely (we're talking about new projects and new services so the reasons why the service was needed and has been set up will be high on everyone's agenda), and as long as someone plays the part of any potential funding body you should get measures which cover all angles.

Second stage is often to ensure that the measures selected are practical. Evaluation should never be at the expense of care delivered - which means few, simple measures demonstrating clear results.

Of course there may be governance issues - if you are collecting information about vulnerable people (children, vulnerable adults, healthcare patients) then do you need permission? What information are you collecting and is it possible to identify the patient? Where are you going to store the information collected - is it secure? All this means that you probably have to seek permission from a governance or evaluation scrutiny committee and woe betide anyone who starts measuring before ensuring they can collect measures, especially if the scrutiny committee finds that the information they are collecting needs special care!

To evaluate results you are going to need some understanding of statistics. A good start point is "Statistics without tears" or the "for dummies" guides. You don't need to get worried about Sampling Theory - in order to apply this you need to know how much difference you expect, and to be blunt if you think you are only going to make a small difference this may be enough in the commercial setting but in delivery of care or support a small difference isn't going to win you the funding you seek.

Know enough statistics to be able to compare two groups (the before and the after) using something like
  • Chi squared (where the result is Yes or No eg for "Happy or Sad", "needed hospital/ did not", "working/ not working") and
  • t-test (or Analysis of Variables/ ANOVA/ MANOVA) where the measure is on a scale ("this happy 1 - 5", "care involved this many steps")
and how to a run chart to show variability and the effect of the change (SPC - Statistical Process Control) and draw bar charts and pie charts which everyone understands.

Aim to present your results in as simple a way as possible - we'll look at Cash and Financials in another blog

Part of Chapter 4
Once you've measured you need to

Friday 25 April 2008

Attracting volunteers and trustees

Voluntary sector organisations are often on the look out for the right skills to further their development.
For Trustees, the best source is National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) - Chris Bell and Marie Lovell forwarded this site.
NCVO also recommend an introductory service, REACH online ( which links volunteers with skills to organisations needing those skills.

Sunday 20 April 2008

Making the case - what would happen without your service?

This blog will form a part of Chapter 5 of a forthcoming book – watch this space!

A useful tool, and vital for making a business case, is Contrast. Make your case using a hypothesis, for example the usual null hypothesis – “what if nothing happened?”
This doesn’t necessarily mean “what happens at the moment?”, as your business case may be a way to survive or thrive during a forthcoming change. To use a commercial example, you may put together a business case to stock warm coats on the basis that weather forecasters predict a colder than usual winter. But it’s summer at the moment, so nobody’s asking for warm coats. This means “what would happen/ will happen if your solution wasn’t available?”.
We’re considering primarily services which benefit the health, well-being or empowerment of people, services for the public good such as schemes which make life bearable for family members who care for others, or schemes that help society to function in a more creative, productive or engaged way such as networks which give voice to many small groups of people. Without the service you are proposing (may already have running on a small scale and want to expand), what happens or will happen?
Carers who are family members
  1. may feel they have no choice in the matter and
  2. can’t take a break from 24 hour caring
Does this mean they succumb to the pressure and end up making too much use of the mental health services? What does this mean in terms of worklessness, in terms of the cost of care, and if you can quantify it, in terms of simple human misery? Do disaffected groups turn to extreme measures to get their voices heard, such as graffiti or destruction? Or do they just refuse to contribute, with the misery and cost of repairing neglect that that entails? Are there services already in place which address the issues, and if so what about the service you want funding makes it worth funding (better tailored to the needs, delivers more benefit for the same resource input or less resource input, more scaleable, fills a specific gap freeing up the existing services for more appropriate needs)?

It can be difficult to quantify, but this is the nub of how value can be added.
Start by a straightforward SWOT analysis (if it’s common sense, it’s probably right – if it looks like rocket science and you aren’t trying to put a rocket into space, then wonder about the advice given). What are the strengths of your solution, and the strengths of the alternatives? List as many things as you can for each of strengths and weaknesses. It is entirely appropriate to look at these in all four areas: Health and Well Being Outcomes, User Experience, Opportunities for Staff and Resources, and Resource Implications (costs, or shortages of the right skills). If all the Strengths are in the “Opportunities for staff” quadrant then are you really doing this for the right reasons, but if opportunities help you retain staff by giving them new skills and new challenges then it’s certainly an additive factor.

With these lists, start to quantify (how many units of cost does a unit of service “cost”?, how good is the improved outcome? How bad is it when disaffected people turn to destruction or self-destruction? What price worklessness?), start to look at how you can compare the alternatives. It is unlikely that the solutions will be black and white – you will find benefits and weaknesses in each alternative, which is why you need some numbers.
  • Opportunities for staff
  • means easier to retain staff
  • means don't have recruitment costs (£1500 per person), don't have to pay premium wages (£1000 per year), therefore for staff turnover improvement from 8 months to 18 months, 10mths = £1500 * 12/10 recruitment savings + £1000 premium SAVINGS
  • etc

At this point you should see patterns begin to emerge, and should be able to start saying “I can see the benefits in these aspects of the solution I’m putting forward” and understand how to apply that to the priorities of potential funding bodies. We’ll look at how to approach funding bodies in another blog.

See also Mark Outhwaite's blog (on a rather different subject) in

Sunday 13 April 2008

Tips for writing business cases

1. It’s not what you do (how you write it, language, length, etc) it’s who you talk to
  1. What are their needs (personal needs such as recognition - actually it’s quite important to recognise this)
  2. What are their priorities (if your service is essentially a primary care service and you work in a hospital, why would they want to put resources into it? Who should you pitch your idea to?)
  3. What are they measured on (for example, Local Authorities have picked 35 indicators from the 198 in the new booklet “new performance framework for local authorities” from the Communities and Local Government web site – identify which buttons your service pushes, identify which buttons your local authorities have chosen to be measured on, and emphasise the matching bits in your proposal)
  4. What pushes their buttons
2. Why are you doing this?
  1. What’s the evidence that there’s a need? Present it
  2. What’s the evidence that it will work (eg from other sites)? Present or at least acknowledge it
  3. What are the cost/benefits? (what do service users do if they don’t have your service? How much does that cost? Who pays?)
  4. Will it work? (what are the risks, resource implications, do you have answers to the simple questions?)
3. Who should you present to?
  1. From talking to people in 1) you should identify who the best funders are, who you want on your team as a figure-head, for credibility, or for all sorts of reasons not least that it’s lonely doing it on your own and you want company. But if you want financials worked out then get someone credible to the funding body to work out the financials, eg someone in their own finance department – that way you don’t have to pay for the service either!) Then give them credit
  2. What’s their timetable? Do they receive bids at a particular time of year, from a particular type of organisation, have a cycle of cases? Do they only fund successful organisations? What about assistance preparing the bid? (you’d be surprised, Urgent Care Limited got start-up funding to help initial costs, finds for legal costs and bid preparation costs and all sorts before the money started flowing in earnest)
  3. What is the accepted route (do they have subcommittees and screening committees? For your own sanity don’t present to anyone who isn’t relevant to the funding, because they don’t like it either. But do work the process – the more difficult it is the fewer other people will have stayed the course)

Sunday 6 April 2008

From Idea to Implementation

Many brilliant health and social care services only help a few people each. Even representation networks rely on the drive often of a single person, giving their own time and energy and sometimes at their own expense. But because you (the single person driving it) are so committed, you win the enthusiasm of other helpers to make it happen. What you are doing is terrific! It is so terrific that others should be able to get the benefits! but only if you can find the resources (time, wages, facilities, other resources) to let it happen on a larger scale. So how do you go about getting resources? Actually it's the same whether you are a commercial organisation, public sector or voluntary - the detail changes but the principles remain the same.

1 what are the aims of your service? Who do they affect? How? What would happen if your service was not in place? Let's work through a couple of examples eg
making iced danish pastries. The aim: to get them completed earlier and at lower cost so that the shops don't run out. Who does this affect? The manufacturer (less time on the machine, probably lower cost), the shops (more sold, more time to sell them in, probably less waste), the consumers (what they want, when they want it). Or days away for young carers (children looking after sick parents): the aim is to help young carers retain their sanity and get their childhood back, it affects the carers, those cared for (their carers are happier), the caring service (unpaid young carers can provide care for longer), and the mental health services (often stressed young carers become service users of mental health services later in life).

2 what are the priorities of potential sources of funding? Divide these into sources which will provide one-off funding to get something off the ground, and ongoing funding. Ongoing funding will want to see cost-benefits; will this make a difference, to what extent, and how much will it cost to deliver this extent. You may even need to show different effects for different funding. One-offs may just need to see that the offering is credible, or they may want to know where future funding is coming from, who's involved, how you will measure it, how you know it will work, etc. There's no simple answer. For example, commercial organisations typically have two masters: making a profit now and investing for the future (of course individuals may have personal agendas you can appeal to). Public sector organisations usually identify specific priorities that they've signed up to, often a variation on the key priorities handed down to them.

3 do the priorities of potential sources, and your own aims for the project, link up? If you are trying to give customers iced buns earlier in the day, then how can you match this up to the parent company's aims in terms of customer satisfaction or lower cost of production? If the Big Lottery Fund has prioritised activities for children, then what do you need to emphasise (the days out) and what to put less emphasis on (that they may suffer stress when they reach adulthood)? Don't prostitute yourself but what can you align to?

4 build a team. Who do you need on your team? Criteria for selection include specific technical ability (if you are a nurse then you probably need someone opposite to yourself to balance it up - use this list as a checklist:
* financial * business planning * credible with funding bodies * technical specific to the needs (engineer, nurse, social worker working with children, baker) * service user (someone who likes iced buns?) you may not want to add that person who knows everyone but you know won't do any work - their kind of work is different to yours and you probably need them!

5 agree why you are doing this. It's best to write the aim down and discuss it, because until it is written down you may be at cross-purposes. Note the team may have different ideas what it is for than the person with the initial idea (you) - but ego aside, is it actually a better idea? Will it work better/ is it more pragmatic? Is it worth going along with just to get the support of everyone?

6 now you can approach funding bodies. I'll expand on these steps later and also how you approach funding bodies.
Remember, if it is a service that some people want, it could be one that lots of people want and if you believe in it you owe it to yourself to grow it