DHSC announces £42.6 million funding for innovative projects in adult social care

The Department for Health and Social Care has announced £42.6 million in funding for innovation projects in adult social care intended to boost quality and accessibility, with suggested projects including utilising digital means to support the carer workforce.

The Accelerating Reform Fund will focus on “trialling and expanding new approaches to providing care and improving services for unpaid carers” as part of the DHSC’s Innovation and Improvement Unit. Examples of innovation priorities have been shared, with case studies illustrating how digital can playing a role in supporting patient choice; developing and strengthening the workforce; and workforce recruitment and retention.

The funding is intended to back projects supporting DHSC’s 10-year vision for adult social care, which centres around three key themes: supporting people with choice and control to live independent lives, helping people to receive “outstanding quality and tailored care”, and ensuring that services are fair and accessible.

Chief executive of Carers UK Helen Walker states: “We’re pleased that the £25 million committed to unpaid carers is now in play – it will be vital in helping to establish innovative and supportive local practices that support unpaid carers’ needs. With an estimated 12,000 people a day becoming unpaid carers, and a rise in the numbers providing more than 50 hours of care each week, this funding is really necessary.”

She adds: “We hope it paves the way forward for longer-term innovation and support that is focused on unpaid carers’ unique needs.”

Kirsty McHugh, CEO at the Carers Trust, comments: “We know from our network of local carer organisations that innovation is already underway across the country. We’re therefore looking forward to some fruitful collaborations between local authorities, local carer organisations and unpaid family carers themselves in the development and scaling of support which provide unpaid family carers with the help they desperately need.”

Support will be offered by the Social Care Institute for Excellence, who will help local authorities to develop local partnerships and deliver projects, as well as collecting and sharing “valuable learnings from projects across the country”. Local authorities are encouraged to submit an expression of interest by 12 January 2024.