Better Careers for Better Care: News from the Programme Manager December 2023
In this December 2023 blog, Programme Development Lead, Holly, shares a bit more about the Better Careers for Better Care funding programme, what we are hoping to fund, eligibility, and the process for submitting an Expression of Interest.
The funding call closed on 10th January 2024.
I have been in post as the Programme Development Lead of Better Careers for Better Care since the summer and, coming from working in children’s mental health, I had a lot to learn. I am so grateful to all the people I have met so far who have shared with me the passion they have for their work in adult social care and the joy they find in it. I am also grateful for the education I have received, and continue to receive, in the complex and varied challenges facing care workers in adult social care, the organisations they work for, and the systems they operate in. All these conversations have fed into the design of the Better Career for Better Care funding call which is currently live. The deadline for Expressions of Interest is 12 noon 10th January 2024.
While the call has been live, I have been meeting with organisations to answer questions about the programme and the Expression of Interest (EOI) process. Through these conversations, I have learnt what has come across clearly from the information we have so far provided, and where there is less clarity. And in each meeting, at least one pertinent question has been asked which has made me think more rigorously about what it is we are seeking to fund. This blog shares a bit more information about what we are looking for, eligibility criteria (or lack thereof!) and the process for submitting an EOI.
In this article:
- A bit more about what we are looking for
- A few specific clarifications
- How to submit an EOI
- An open invitation to reach out
Across the Foundation’s responsive grant-making programme, we look for work which could change the way issues are tackled in our society and which could have lessons for others beyond the funded organisation. Through the Better Careers for Better Care programme, we are looking for organisations and partnerships that are already committed to transformation and are responding innovatively to the many challenges facing care workers and workforce development in adult social care.
Although the designated pot of £2 million is large for us as a grant-maker, we recognise that it is tiny in comparison to the size of adult social care as a sector and the workforce development challenges it faces. That is why we want to collaborate with organisations and partnerships that have a culture of, and commitment to, transformation and change. We want to think creatively with partners about how our funding can be used to unlock and overcome barriers, ultimately in order to improve the care older people receive. We have the privilege of being independent and our grants can be more flexible in both what is funded and how it is funded.
We see ourselves as one small piece of a much larger puzzle. Through the EOIs, we want to understand the current work of organisations and partnerships to innovate, build evidence of the difference made, and influence systems-level change. The work could be based in a geographical area or focused on a particular theme. Within the EOI we have asked for initial ideas about how the Foundation’s funding might be used and an indication of the expected outcomes for carers and care provision as a result of the funding, however, we are not seeking project plans or budgets at this stage. Through the EOIs we want to identify partners to work alongside to develop full applications and the detail needed for our Board to make a decision later in 2024.
- People in later life: The Foundation’s funding priority is to improve the quality of life for older people and their carers and so when we speak of people in later life in the funding guidelines, we are referring to those who draw on care. We recognise that the adult social care workforce has significant numbers of older people working in it. In such circumstances, by supporting the career development of older care workers we are improving the quality of life for older people who are also carers. We will of course also consider proposals that specifically address recruitment and retention of younger people, which we see as crucial to building a sustainable workforce into the future.
- Innovation: When we speak of innovation, this could be in reference to the idea that is being proposed, the processes and mechanisms put in place to design and/or deliver the project or programme, or the relationships, networks and communications established to facilitate it. What we want to see is fresh thinking that has the potential to address entrenched issues within adult social care workforce development.
- Co-production: Co-production of career development opportunities and workforce development plans is articulated as one of the funding priorities on the guidance webpage. The TLAP National Co-Production Advisory Group say that ‘when co-production works best, people who use services and carers are valued by organisations as equal partners, can share power and have influence over decisions made’. We believe this would involve both care workers and people drawing on care and/or their families in the development and delivery of workforce development plans.
The Better Careers for Better Care grant-making programme is a first for the Foundation in a number of ways: taking a strategic and collaborative approach based on learning from consultation, using an EOI process, involving External Advisors in our assessment process, and having an independent evaluation partner alongside the funded programme. We are taking a different approach because we are seeking to contribute to change at a systems-level in a way we haven’t done before.
As this is a new approach for us, we are taking an inclusive approach to eligibility. We are open to receiving EOIs from organisations working in all types of care settings, non-statutory and statutory, not-for-profit and for-profit. We are open to hearing from organisations of all types and size. What we want to see are the best solutions to entrenched, systemic issues facing care workers and workforce development in adult social care. We want to find organisations or partnerships with the capability and networks required to test these solutions and share the learning. We do not have a preference about who does the work.
Our guidance webpage states that we are ‘particularly likely to fund partnership bids’, and we do have a preference to fund partnership working. This is because we believe that to have an impact at a systems-level, many different organisations must be convinced and willing to offer support. This does not mean that only partnership bids will be considered, but we do want to see organisations thinking about who needs to be engaged and involved to give their proposed projects the best chance at success.
The guidance also states that partner organisations will need to contribute funding and/or significant in-kind support. This is not prescriptive and could be funding that has already been allocated to change and transformation in relation to career and workforce development; it could be the associated organisational costs needed to facilitate the proposed project; it could be the time needed from managers, leaders, or external consultants (e.g. website designers); or it could be additional funds secured alongside our funding. What we want to see is that partners are willing to contribute as much as they can to support the proposed work.
Along with the EOI, please also provide your availability for a 45-minute online interview between Monday 22nd and Wednesday 31st January. The interview will be with a sub-section of the Assessment Panel and constitute 30% of the final score. 70% of the final score will come from the full Assessment Panel’s scoring of the written EOI. Only long-listed organisations/partnerships will be fully assessed including being asked to interview.
We recognise that writing and submitting bids takes time and energy and we are committed to providing feedback to all organisations that submit an EOI. To manage expectations, it feels important to share that we are unsure of the number of EOIs we will receive, and that we have limited resources and capacity. The reason EOIs may not be longlisted or shortlisted may simply be that we receive too many EOIs to take forward and that other EOIs scored higher If we do receive more EOIs with exciting and innovative approaches than we could possibly fund with the designated budget, we will share this with our Board and revisit the purpose and parameters around the grant-making programme.
We are currently developing an Impact Evaluation Framework with our independent evaluation partner. This will be available to shortlisted partners to inform the development of full applications in the first half of 2024.
I know that the deadline is less than a month away now, and that the winter holidays will take a chunk of this time. But I am ready and available to meet online if you have any further questions about the process or initial ideas you have for funding. Please reach out via email if it would be helpful to meet, and if not, I hope to have the opportunity to learn more about the work you do through an EOI.
In addition, if you have any queries about outcomes and impact evaluation, our evaluators are available to discuss your plans with you, particularly at the full application stage.
For full details of the grant-making programme, please visit the Better Careers for Better Care webpage.
Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.
The funding call has now closed. If you have any queries, please email the Programme Development Lead - email@example.com