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

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