Better Careers for Better Care: Taking a Strategic and Collaborative Approach

Lou Morris Photography - Choir With No Name, London at Cadogan 2022
Blog, November 2023
Strategic and Collaborative Grant-Making

Better Careers for Better Care: Taking a Strategic and Collaborative Approach

In this blog, our Director Crispin Truman shares the Foundation's evolving thinking which has led to the development of a new, proactive and collaborative grant-making programme into adult social care.

It has been over a year since I became Director of the Rayne Foundation.   It was a very exciting move for me, not least because all my previous roles have been on the other side of the table, looking for funding and making the case for investment.

So from the start, and particularly now we are carrying out a review of our priorities and strategy at the Foundation, I made it my mission to connect with and learn from as many of the leaders of the organisations we fund as possible. It’s also been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve had to do, visiting numerous projects and hearing from the people working on them has not only increased my understanding of the issues faced by those we fund, but also encouraged me to think about the Foundation’s role and responsibility as an independent funder and how we ensure that our grant-making provides the best and most valuable support possible to those most in need, in the future.

So I am particularly delighted that we are exploring a new, proactive approach to our grant-making through the Better Careers for Better Care programme. The programme will explore and test how the Foundation’s limited resources can have the biggest positive impact, working with others to improve the quality of life for older people and their carers. The new approach has been designed using the Rayne Foundation’s working values as a framework, aiming to be trusting, collaborative, creative and rigorous.

In this blog I will share a bit about how this programme has developed and the grant-making process we have designed, in preparation for the launch of an open call for Expressions of Interest on 13th November 2023.

In this article:

Our evolving thinking

Our evolving mission as an independent funder is to realise  the potential of organisations to work together, to develop and share solutions, and to create a fairer society.  We look for good ideas from which other people can learn and which have lessons beyond the local.  We seek to influence those with the power and resources to secure long-term and widespread implementation of solutions.

We know why we do this – to improve lives and promote social change. And we know how we have always done this – through a responsive, rolling grant-making programme.

However, a discussion has been going on at the Foundation since before my arrival, about whether we could use our resources and funding differently to better effect change in our areas of special interest. Could we be more strategic, more proactive, more collaborative in order to increase our impact?

We have most consistently and thoughtfully asked these questions of our funding to improve the quality of life for older people and their carers. Our Head of Grants, Susan O’Sullivan, shares this journey and the key learning so far in her blog here.

After listening carefully to leaders in adult social care, the Foundation committed financial and team resources to the development of a new, proactive and collaborative funding programme to run alongside the continuing open grants programme.

We have an independent evaluator, Bean Research, who will help us to understand the impact of taking a different approach, and capture learning to support us into the future as our grant-making continues to evolve.

Strategic Grant-making

The Better Careers for Better Care grant-making programme aims to support innovation, creativity, and collaboration in the social care sector, specifically focused on the care workforce. We believe we must be strategic in where we direct our funding to contribute to change at a systemic level and that this is an area of particularly high need.

We know that there is no one single solution to the many and varied workforce challenges within adult social care and that action is needed at multiple levels to contribute to change at a systems level. We hope to be one part of a wider ecosystem of organisations, funders and commissioners seeking to improve the lives of people in later life through contributing to the creation of a thriving and dynamic workforce.

We believe that better career development opportunities will result in better care for those who need it most. The funding call to be launched on 13th November is framed by what we heard from the sector and will seek partners to lead innovative work which contributes to systems-level change in one of the following areas:

  1. Recognition, acknowledgement and championing of the value and skills of care workers.
  2. Sustainable recruitment into the social care workforce.
  3. Design, delivery, and support to access career progression opportunities for staff across the social care workforce.
  4. Development of sector leaders.
  5. Empowering and enabling social care leaders to contribute to strategy development in health and social care.
  6. Co-production at the local, regional and/or national level of career development opportunities and/or workforce development plans.
  7. Establishing inclusive, learning cultures within care in later life, and evidencing positive impact on both the workforce and the quality of care for older people.
  8. Connecting care provision for people in later life with the wider community to support recruitment and retention within the social care workforce.

Collaborative Grant-making

We want to create a culture of collaboration and support at all stages of the grant-making process. Recognising the time and energy it takes to apply for funding, the Foundation is using a simple Expression of Interest form for the first time, helping us to understand the work that organisations are already involved in and asking for an initial idea for development. We don’t want fully formed applications because we want to think with organisations about how our funding can be used most creatively and effectively.  

We acknowledge that we as funders do not have the lived and learned expertise and experience that exists within the social care sector. We have therefore asked a number of External Advisors to join the Foundation team in the assessment of the Expressions of Interest. Another exciting first for the Foundation.

Visits to organisations as part of our second stage application process have been greatly valued by the Foundation for many years - we learn so much from meeting and talking with people. In keeping with this, all longlisted organisations will also be asked to meet with a sub-section of the Assessment Panel before shortlisting takes place, allowing us to hear first-hand from potential partner organisations about their work, the challenges they face and the possible solutions.

We hope from this shortlisting process to find a group of programmes with the vision, energy and momentum to have a transformative impact on staff development in adult social care. We are looking for partner organisations with whom we can then work to develop applications for Board decision which maximise the potential of independent funding.  £2 million has been set aside for this programme with grants expected to range up to the value of £300,000,

And we don’t want to stop there. Once grants have been awarded, we want to continue working together to  ensure that progress and learning is captured. We will use our networks and influence to share the learning, in the hope we can have an impact beyond the programmes we are funding.

Could this be for you?

We hope that many of you reading this blog will be as excited as we are by the funding opportunity and approach described. You can find all the information on the programme and call for Expressions of Interest here. If you think that you may be well placed to submit an Expression of Interest, I really encourage you to reach out to our Programme Development Lead, Holly, to find our more and discuss your initial thinking. 


The Better Careers for Better Care funding call is now closed. If you have any queries about the programme, email Programme Development Lead Holly Baine