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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New National Social Care Category Strategy launched by LGA

IPC has welcomed the publication of guidance from the LGA which offers support to commissioners and providers to work together to deliver the best outcomes for people receiving social care services. A number of organisations were asked to comment on the draft strategy, including IPC.

The National Social Care Category Strategy is intended to support council procurement in social care by promoting partnership working with providers in an equal and co-operative way, in line with the requirements of the Care Act.

The approach outlined helps to build on the procurement aspect of the IPC commissioning model and includes the model developed by IPC.

The new strategy can be found on the LGA website.


Opportunities to attend Carers Eligibilty workshops in London March 2016

A new date for the popular Carers’ Eligibilty workshop has been announced. The workshop will take place in London on 15 March 2016.

The Carers’ Eligibility workshops held in Swindon and London last year were very well received by participants and places for the new event are booking up fast.

"Absolutely the right balance of learning and having real quality time with other staff"

"A real light bulb moment in our understanding"

“We would like more opportunities for this type of event."

The workshop is aimed at local authority professionals, organisations in the voluntary sector and other key partners to support their understanding of the Care Act eligibility framework relating to carers.

Find out more about this workshop and the whole programme for 2016 here.


Award for Calderdale People's Commission

A 'People's Commission' in Calderdale chaired by IPC Associate Director Andrew Kerslake has been awarded a Good Scrutiny Award.

Calderdale Council asked Professor Kerslake to chair the commission in response to plans announced in February 2014 by local NHS providers to reconfigure acute hospital services in Calderdale and Huddersfield, in the process closing Accident and Emergency services in Calderdale.

The announcement caused considerable anxiety and anger in the community and the 'People's Commission' sought to address this, holding public meetings and locality events to listen to the views of the public across Calderdale.

In response to the 'People's Commission', the decision on commissioning hospital services was postponed and recommendations produced by the Commission were passed on to the Health and Wellbeing Board, placing the work firmly in the partnership between the Council and the NHS.  The process was described by judges as 'open and transparent' which changed the dynamic in a difficult local situation to a more collaborative and positive conversation for their community.

The Centre for Public Scrutiny is an independent charity focused on ideas, thinking and the application and development of policy and practice for accountability public service.

You can read more about the Calderdale People's Commission here.


Evaluating innovations in family support in Wales

IPC has begun work with Newport City Council and Barnardo’s to evaluate their innovative family support partnership, which aims to provide the right support at the right time to vulnerable local families.

The partnership model uses a combination of core and grant funding to deliver integrated services across the continuum of need from targeted prevention to interventions with families whose children require a Child Protection Plan.

Services and interventions have been designed with reference to local demand and the existing evidence base about ‘what works’, including in relation to families with complex needs.

The IPC evaluation will explore the extent to which early positive findings about the impact of this model have made a difference over time and why.


Research into consortia commissioning of placements for children in care

IPC has published research into consortia commissioning of placements for children in care. 

Local authorities are increasingly working together in consortia to commission placements for children in care, particularly for children in foster care and residential child care.IPC reviewed these consortia arrangements to better understand what has and hasn’t worked. 

The research included analysis of all consortia in England to map current arrangements, interviews with key national and local stakeholders, a survey of providers and a detailed evaluation of a sample of commissioning arrangements. The report identifies examples of good practice and offers recommendations and considerations for the sector.

This report was produced by the Institute for Public Care (IPC) and funded by the Department for Education. The views that are expressed in this work are those of IPC and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department for Education. 

The report can be found on our publications page


Extra care housing in Wales - the state of the nation

A report into extra care housing in Wales highlights the challenges facing the market in the country and the key issues which will need to be addressed to provide future housing for older people.

'Extra care housing in Wales: a state of the nation report' was prepared by IPC for the Housing LIN Cymru and offers an up-to-date picture of the current supply of extra care housingHousing LIN - Connecting people, ideas and resources. It offers support for encouraging and facilitating new extra care housing developments in Wales to help deal with an ageing population and a finite supply of housing and draws attention to accommodation, care and services already offered in the country.

Extra care housing can help to improve the health and wellbeing of residents, benefit local communities by offering employment and freeing up family housing, and reduce demand for health and social care services. It can also encourage services such as the NHS and social care to work more closely in genuine partnerships.

The report makes a number of recommendations for extra care housing for older people in Wales over the coming decades.

The report is available on the IPC website and the Housing LIN website.


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.


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.


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.