Oxford Brookes University
Better outcomes through well run, evidence based public care


The Institute of Public Care is part of Oxford Brookes University. Established in 1987, our purpose is to support better outcomes through well run, evidence-based public care. Based in offices in Oxford and Bath, our team of 40 staff and Fellows works across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.  IPC provides an integrated combination of applied research, evaluation, consultancy, workforce development and system design.  We work with national and local government, NHS organisations, schools, housing with care providers, the private and voluntary sector.


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Developing links with Chinese universities

IPC hosted a visit from staff of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chongqing Jinyang Development Corporation, who are interested in services for older people in care settings in the UK.

The group visited the St Monica Trust's Cote Lane retirement community in Bristol and the Richmond Villages retirement village at Letcombe Regis, where they spoke to staff and residents. They also met colleagues from other Oxford Brookes departments about potential collaboration.


IPC Partners Conference: Meeting needs and reducing demand in public care

The next event for IPC Partnership members will take place in Reading on 19th and 20th January 2016. The theme will be 'Meeting needs and reducing demand in public care'.

Organisations across health and social care anticipate that the Comprehensive Spending Review will require innovative and effective responses to meet the challenge of further budget reductions or increased efficiencies. We are currently working with a number of organisations who are already rising to these challenges and will bring these examples and others from around the country to look approaches and activities to reduce and manage demand while still meeting outcomes and meeting wellbeing requirements.

In keeping with recent successful events, there will be a mix of IPC and Partner presentations, shared learning discussions and an opportunity to hear from a range of invited speakers including John Bolton who will share his experience.

Full details of the agenda for the event and planned activities will be sent out to Partners in November.


IPC provides analysis of Welsh care home sector for Minister

IPC has prepared a report for the Minister for Health and Social Care in Wales and the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) which considers the resilience of the Care Home Sector in Wales.

The report, prepared with the PPIW, looks at the residential care market in Wales at a crucial time for social care in Wales, with the implementation of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014. It highlights considerable variations across Wales, with some councils managing care homes directly and others running very few, if any, homes themselves. Wales is less dependent than England on large scale providers but questions exist over future provision due to a range of factors, including:

- owners of single homes reaching retirement age
- financial pressures on care homes make it more difficult to enter the market
- providers seeking to expand facing high capital costs and uncertain future demand
- increasing costs of care as people require more intensive support
- a shortage of skilled nursing staff

The report advises that Councils and the Welsh Government monitor services, ownership, financial stability, staffing and quality of care in order to plan future provision. It recommends that the Welsh Government develops a national standard contract for use by councils and private providers and consults on whether national guidance on fees would be useful. Councils should include care homes and domiciliary care in their wider planning and economic development activities.

The report is likely to be of interest to people working across the care sector and its importance has been picked up by the BBC reporting the publication.

The report is available on the PPIW website.

IPC and Guinness Partnership win dementia award

IPC and the Guinness Partnership have won an award for work carried out earlier this year to help Guinness become ‘dementia-friendly’. The report has been published on the IPC website.

The award has come from the Dementia Services Development Centre UK and the Care & Dementia Show. The organisations established the International Dementia Awards to recognise organisations and individuals who have worked to improve the quality of life of people with dementia. The awards celebrate work to support people with dementia and are a celebration of innovation and good practice.

The award for the Guinness Partnership and IPC is in the ‘Housing and Dementia’ award category, which ‘recognises innovation and high quality in provision of housing and housing support for people with dementia that allows them to stay in their own homes for as long as possible’.


Developing a housing vision for the South West

As a continuation of our work with the South West Housing LIN, IPC has collaborated with members of its Leadership Set to produce their five year vision statement. Housing LIN - Connecting people, ideas and resourcesThe report, 'Putting older people first: our vision for the next five years', sets out a vision for a whole system approach to meeting housing, health and wellbeing outcomes for older populations in South West England over the next five years. The work was sponsored by Public Health England.

The vision statement highlights:

  • The aims and objectives of the group, including developing a shared understanding of the benefits to be gained from working across the health, social care and housing systems.
  • Specific issues facing the sector in the region including demographic pressures, increasing use of care homes set against limited housing options, and increasing levels of older people living with dementia.
  • Examples of innovative practice and the groups priorities over the next 5 years Priorities include supporting more integrated approaches to service design and delivery, promoting new models of care based around housing services, and developing an evidence base of the contribution housing can make to the prevention agenda.

The report is available here. Other Examples of how IPC can support commissioners and providers to improve the commissioning and delivery of housing services to maximise the outcomes delivered for older people and other vulnerable groups can be found on our publications page.


Hampshire County Council Innovation Fund 'Active Agents for Change' Evaluation

As part of an early stages evaluation of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’s Innovation Programme aiming to transform Children’s Social Care, IPC has prepared a series of rapid research reviews relating to the key strands of the innovation:

  • Supporting children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation
  • The role and impact of volunteers within family support
  • The role and impact of enhanced administrative support to social work teams
  • Effective interventions and services for young people at the Edge of Care
  • The role and impact of social worker-delivered advice and consultation for community based professionals

The project was supported by the Department for Education's Innovation Fund to undertake major change relating to the way in which social care services for children, young people and families are delivered. The overall objective for the programme is to create the right conditions and capacity for professionals to work more effectively and cost effectively with vulnerable children and families in order to get it right first time and therefore to reduce the demand for more remedial or repeat interventions – in other words, to become ‘active agents for change’.

These rapid research reviews can all now be found on the publications page of our website for use by all local authority services.


IPC to deliver key learning materials for Wales

IPC has been chosen by the Care Council for Wales to develop training to support the implementation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act. Care Council for Wales, Cyngor Gofal Cymru

The training will be developed to support those whose roles will be most affected by the Act and summaries of the main messages will be made available to ensure the entire workforce understands how the Act will affect their work. IPC will also deliver ‘training the trainer’ events to support those carrying out the training on the Act.

The Care Council for Wales is working alongside workforce and director leads from all six Welsh regions and the Welsh Government to ensure there is a strong and achievable training plan in place for the Act. Over the next few months there will be a number of engagement events and activities around different topics related to the training materials for relevant stakeholders.

IPC offers a range of training around social care and can develop individual training and development tailored to the needs of your organisation. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you.


New dates announced for the Team Manager Development Programme in Wales

New dates have been announced for the successful Team Manager Development Programme for Wales.  The programme is now in its fifth year and new courses are available for those team managers seeking to undertake this high quality training.  TMDP was developed by IPC for the SSIA to improve the skills and knowledge of team managers working in social care across Wales.  The course has been continually updated to reflect developments in policy and practice in Wales.

More information on how TMDP can help you, together with details about new course dates, can be found here.


The Care Act: the next steps...the IPC Partnership Conference

"One of the most useful events of the type that I’ve attended in 12 years working in local government!’

IPC hosted a Partnership Conference which focused on the challenges of the Care Act. Attendees were given the opportunity to review the progress being made in implementing the significant changes introduced under the new Act and they had the opportunity to network with colleagues, share good practice and learn from each other. The event enabled attendees to explore practical examples of how organisations have been developing their agendas and to reflect on their own progress.

The event offered a mix of IPC and Partner presentations, shared learning discussions and an opportunity to hear from invited speakers John Jackson of Oxfordshire County Council and Stephen Sloss of Salvere.  There were a number of themed discussions around topics presented by the Partnership attendees themselves.

Plenaries were held on self funders; implementing the ‘spirit’ of the Care Act and market shaping. Themed discussions were held around issues including assessment and eligibility, information and advice and commissioning independent advocacy.

"Well done IPC and thank you for a really stimulating event, for me, it was time well spent."

Following on from the success of the Partnership Conference, IPC plans to host an open conference on the implications of new social care legislation for organisations across England and Wales later in the year.   If you would like to be contacted about this event, please contact us.


Developing new approaches to dementia

IPC has worked with both providers and local authorities to look at how they can best respond to the growth in the number of people with dementia. Two projects undertaken this year demonstrate the range of work undertaken.


  Dementia friendly communities in Hampshire

IPC undertook an evaluation of the Hampshire-wide Dementia Friendly Communities (DFC) project, exploring whether the objectives and outcomes of the Hampshire-wide Dementia Friendly Communities project have been achieved over the two years of its operation. The project involved a combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection, with analysis and drafting completed in spring 2015. During the programme, more than 3,400 people attended awareness sessions delivered by project staff, and many more attended sessions provided by volunteers.

  Guinness: becoming a dementia-friendly organisation

IPC prepared a report for the Guinness Partnership on how it can work to become a dementia friendly organisation. The research conducted by IPC indicated that there are likely to be more than 1,000 older people living with dementia in Guinness homes or receiving care services provided by Guinness. One third of these are living in general needs housing. The report involved discussions with staff and residents and the presentation of a number of recommendations.

Both these reports are available on the IPC publications page in our featured publications.

IPC works with national government, local authorities, providers and health organisations, offering high quality research, consultancy and management training.

Toolkit to help small providers and local authorities work together and innovate

IPC has published a resource for both smaller care providers and local authorities to engage in market shaping and develop innovative practice to meet local needs together

The toolkit is intended to highlight good practice around the country in the way that local authorities and smaller care and support providers collaborate and provide innovative services. It offers a series of checklists and materials to encourage good quality market shaping activities.

- For local authorities, the toolkit will give some new ideas and suggestions about who to engage with, why and how, in local care markets.
- For providers, the toolkit offers a stimulus and encouragement to ask local authorities ‘Why are we not doing this?’

The toolkit was commissioned by the Department of Health, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS). It can be found here.


DfE report demonstrates challenges for the children’s residential care market

A detailed research report developed by IPC for the Department for Education concluded that that children's residential care contains 'inherent instabilities'. The report, which involved extensive contacts with stakeholders working in and with children's residential care offered a number of observations: Department for Education.svg


  • Significant numbers of the largest providers are reported as having negative tangible net worth (44%) and declining performance, including the impact of debt levels. Over half reported weaker balance sheets in the most recent reported period.
  • Amongst the second tier of providers, including several charitable organisations, 75% reported weaker profit or surplus performance in the last reported period. The children’s residential care is often subsidised by other activities (e.g. fostering) or charitable income.
  • Smaller providers have to work harder to generate returns, although because it proved difficult to obtain data across what is the largest part of the market, the report suggests that the picture is less clear than for the larger providers.

Overall, the children's residential care market is not stable and some of the factors present in adult care, which led to the development of market oversight, are also present in this sector, such as falling or static prices and the separation of property from care delivery.

The children's market does have some additional ways of dealing with a financial crisis, such as mothballing homes, although in such a small market these decisions are not without consequences, such as in terms of the availability of suitable placements.

The report makes ten recommendations for action, including encouraging local authorities and the provider market to work closer together in stimulating innovation and in preventing failure. The report argues that Ofsted needs to take on a wider market oversight role and responsibilities.


Good news for carers as most English local authorities still don't charge

Among recent changes introduced in the Care Act, the right to charge carers for services was introduced. A recent enquiry to local authorities in England asked if they charged carers for services where carers meet the eligibility criteria set out within the Care Act.

Almost all of the authorities - 92% (140) - said that they do not charge carers; the other 8% (12) said they do.

74% (103) of Councils which said they do not currently charge confirmed that they had no plans to charge in future, while 19% (26) said they would be reviewing approaches to charging in the near future and that this review would encompass charging for carers.

A full consideration of the results of this enquiry can be found here.

The Institute of Public Care has been involved for several years in the development and dissemination of information and training to support Councils in implementing the Care Act in England. We have developed a new workshop for councils to help them understand the Care Act as it relates to carers and to identify key principles involved in applying the eligibility criteria for carers. It has been delivered to several partners and can be tailored to the individual needs of your authority or a group of authorities.

For more information about our workshops or any other aspect of support IPC can offer, contact us at ipc@brookes.ac.uk.


Carers' eligibility workshop welcomed by South West authorities

IPC delivered a workshop for local authorities in the South West of England which looked at changes introduced in the Care Act for carers.  The Carers' Eligibility Workshop was held in Taunton and attracted participants from across the region. 

The workshop was commissioned by ADASS to help local authorities develop their understanding of the Care Act as it relates to carers and to identify key principles involved in applying the eligibility criteria.  The event attracted a good mix of participants, with 29 strategic and operational managers attending from 13 local authorities in the region. 

All the attendees are involved in rolling out the Care Act and working with carers in their areas and they included people from carers centres and managers from carers' trusts.  They had the opportunity at the workshop to apply their understanding to different scenarios and to identify what they might share with colleagues across the region. 

The event received excellent feedback and participants called for more such events regionally and nationally to support local authorities as they implement the Care Act.

IPC offers training and management support tailored to the needs of individual authorities and regions such as the South West.  If you would like to know more about this training or other support we can offer on the Care Act, please contact IPC.


IPC to deliver innovative strategic management development programme for Welsh Directors

IPC is working with SSIA and ADSS Cymru to deliver the second phase of the Strategic Management Development Programme – ‘Leading by Example’.  The new learning opportunity follows the successful completion of the New Directors Leadership Programme in 2014-15.  

The innovative programme is open to Directors and Heads of Service across Wales who will be invited to join two small learning teamsfocused on either adults' or children's services.  The programme will enable participants to develop their strategic leadership skills in an intensive learning programme with colleagues from across Wales through visits to different local authorities in the UK which offer good practice.

Participants will have an oportunity to compare what they have learned from these authorities with each other and across the adults' and children's teams. The participants will develop workshops to be delivered across Wales for other Directors and senior managers from within Welsh Social Services, including partners where appropriate.

The development of the programme has been overseen by the National Programme Management Committee in partnership with lead Directors from ADSSCymru for Improvement and Workforce. It will be delivered by IPC.

For more information about the programme, visit SSIA.

IPC offers a range of management development opportunities and is able to develop training tailored to the individual needs of organisations or groups of organisations. Find out more about what IPC can offer here or contact IPC to discuss your needs further.


IPC offers strategic commissioning skills development to Tayside Partnerships

IPC delivered a two day learning event in Dundee for the three Tayside Health and Social Care Partnerships to build a shared understanding of joint strategic commissioning. The training helped attendees to develop the joint commissioning skills that the partnerships will need to address the new challenges in health and social care.

The training was intended to help employees of the Partnerships to respond to the Public Bodies (Joint Working) Scotland Act 2014.   The Act has highlighted the importance of joint strategic commissioning to achieve the right outcomes for people and requires the NHS, local authorities and other key partners to work together to produce a strategic plan for adults by April 2016.

IPC offers management development and training to colleagues across Scotland, Wales and England across a range of social care topics. The training provided is often tailored to the needs of individual organisations, as was the case in Scotland.

For more information about how we can help you, visit the management development page on our website or contact Fiona Richardson.


Outcome-based commissioning in housing - an IPC perspective

“An obsession with numbers leaves us blind to what good outcomes can be achieved if we 'commission' housing effectively” contests IPC in a new blog for The Housing LIN. Housing LIN - Connecting people, ideas and resources

Debating the benefits of taking an outcome-based commissioning approach, the blog suggests that housing should be viewed in terms of how it can contribute to an individual’s health and wellbeing outcomes rather than purely numbers of buildings developed.

Good housing can have direct benefits for both health and social care in maintaining good standards of living and enabling independence. Housing commissioners will need to develop a different relationship with the system as a whole, particularly health and social care to improve both understanding of the needs to be addressed and the delivery process.

The blog by Juliet Bligh and Nick Hooper is available here.

More information about IPC's housing offer for strategic commissioners is available here.


IPC to evaluate Children's Services Innovation Programmes

IPC has been commissioned to evaluate two whole-system Innovation Programmes funded by the Department for Education (DfE) straddling children's social care and early intervention services. The DfE launched the Innovation Programme in 2013 to act as a catalyst for developing more effective ways of supporting vulnerable children.Department for Education.svg

In Hampshire, IPC will evaluate the extent to which new family intervention teams, volunteers, edge of care services, social work surgeries and workforce development in support of improved direct work with families are effecting positive change including in supporting more children to remain safely at home and a reduction in the need for care.

In Windsor and Maidenhead, IPC will evaluate the extent to which locality-based teams delivering more culturally sensitive and appropriate family support services can engage effectively with communities that have been over-represented in the child in need population

It is intended that these evaluations will help to inform the development of Children's Services more broadly. The reports on both services are expected to be published in 2016.

IPC visit to China to discuss housing solutions

The Director of IPC and Head of Research have recently returned from a trip to Sichuan Province in China, where they met with representatives of the Chongqing Jinyang Real Estate Development Corporation and Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Professor Keith Moultrie and Liz Cairncross visited several local housing with care schemes near Chengdu and, following discussions about potential collaboration, IPC has signed a memorandum of understanding focused on developing a shared knowledge base, knowledge and skills exchange, and research on older people.

Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has around 20,000 students studying health related course in both Western and traditional Chinese medicine. It is one of the top 5 'TCM' universities in China.

The Chongqing Jinyang Real Estate Development Corporation is interested in developing high quality housing with care solutions in response to the considerable growth in the number of older people in China relative to the younger population.

IPC has worked with a wide range of organisations to explore housing options. More on our work can be found on the Strategic Housing for Older People (SHOP) page or in our publications


Calderdale People's Commission reports on health changes

A People's Commission set up by Calderdale MBC and chaired by IPC Associate Director Professor Andrew Kerslake has rejected a series of proposals to reconfigure hospital services in the area.

The Commission was established in 2014 to give residents the chance to help shape social care and health services. The report, published in February 2015, questioned whether proposals from NHS providers in Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield to reconfigure hospital services would produce better health outcomes and deliver value for money for people in the area.

The Commission recommended that no costly changes to hospital services should be made unless it can be demonstrated that 'changes to community health services can provide a better approach to healthcare provision'. The report also called for the Health and Wellbeing Board to help drive improvement in the area.

The report was welcomed by Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group which undertook to ensure that the views of residents would be taken into account as plans for local health provision are developed.

Professor Kerslake has chaired the People's Commission since it was established in 2014.


IPC study into welfare needs of seafarers

IPC has carried out a study into the likely future care needs of former UK seafarers for the Maritime Charities Group. Seafarers UKThe UK Seafarers’ Demographic Profile report has highlighted how the number of former UK seafarers continues to decline but the need for welfare services among them is expected to rise.

The oldest former seafarers are most likely to be the key drivers of demand for care and support services from the maritime charities which commissioned the report to help understand how to meet future needs.  The report forecasts an increase in the number of former seafarers aged 85 and over.

There are currently 358,000 former seafarers across the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and fishing fleets aged over 65. As well as being vulnerable to specific health problems and conditions associated with their time at sea, many will have limited or no occupational pension provision.

Changes to welfare and social care provision are also likely to create a range of needs for help and support among the adult and child dependants of serving and former seafarers. The number of dependants of ex-seafarers is estimated to be 687,000.

For more information about the report, visit the Maritime Charities Group website.


Commissioning Care Act Advocacy Services

IPC supported the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) in developing new materials aimed at commissioners working to implement the Care Act 2015. Social Care Institute for Excellence The Care Act gives commissioners new duties to provide advocacy under the Care Act 2014.

The new resource will help commissioning officers in local authorities think through their new duties and understand what they are required to do to comply with the new requirements of the Act.

All the resources are available on the SCIE website.


CQC publishes IPC care market review

In the wake of the collapse of Southern Cross and following the development of the Market Oversight regime in the Care Act, CQC has published a significant report, produced by IPC in the spring of 2014, reviewing the state of the Care Market in England.Care Quality Commission (CQC) IPC found that:

  • The older persons' care market continues to be fragile.
  • The more internationally diverse the ownership model of care providers, the more difficult it is to gain clarity about their overarching financial position.
  • Debt, and the management of debt, is a critical issue for some providers.
  • Recruiting a trained and well paid workforce is likely to be a major issue for the future.
  • A series of factors in the next few years may persuade some smaller care home providers to cash in their assets and leave the market.

Overall, the greatest risk of failure is likely to be amongst larger care home provider who do not own the properties in which they operate, and where they have a concentration of homes in a limited number of authorities in less affluent areas.

The report contains a number of recommendations and suggestions for how CQC implements its market oversight role. A full copy of the report is available here.