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Leading the Way: The Distinctive Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector in Social Care

| July 2012

This paper, an amalgamation of three papers prepared by IPC on behalf of the National Care Forum (NCF), explores the distinctive contribution of the not-for-profit sector to social care.

The first paper examines the importance to high-quality care of an effective and committed workforce. It focuses on not-for-profit organisations’ contribution to good employment practice, looking at the evidence for a stable, diverse and flexible workforce in the sector, the organisational values that are attracting increased levels of recruitment and retention, and the tangible benefits to quality of care that those values and practices bring. The paper also includes a series of short, illustrative case studies offering practical examples of NCF member organisations putting principles into practice in areas including recruitment, leadership training and career development, and flexible employment practices.

The focus of the second paper is the achievement of not-for-profit organisations in leading innovation in the design, delivery and funding of services, both in residential and community-based care, at a time when improved outcomes providing good value have never been more urgently needed. The paper identifies key characteristics and examples of successful practice from the not-for-profit sector in: shared values at governance level; reinvestment of surplus in the further enhancement of services; capacity to raise extra funds through charitable giving; capacity and willingness, through bodies such as the NCF, to share best practice; and the presence of an experienced, well trained workforce, committed to the notions of innovation and quality.

The third paper looks at social capital and added value and how these concepts are particular features of the approach of organisations in the not-for-profit sector. It gives a definition of social capital, its task of bringing people together, and the positive effect of collective communal action. It explains how adding value through increasing social capital might involve making sure services offer opportunities for local people to be more engaged and active. Social care commissioners frequently achieve added value by looking to the not-for profit sector, with its strong links with communities, experience of working with volunteers and understanding of local employment conditions. It presents examples of the kind of differences made by members of the NCF in terms of: leadership; volunteering; providing opportunities for service users to contribute; community and cohesion; and mutuality and shared identity.