Proactive Grant-Making

Live Music Now, Queen's Oak Care Home 9.7.19 Zoe Wren and Maz O'Connor, Photographer Ivan Gonzalez
Proactive Grant-Making
The Rayne Foundation is developing a proactive approach to funding, initially focused on workforce development in adult social care

Better Careers for Better Care: Proactive Grant-Making into Adult Social Care

The Better Careers for Better Care is a strategic and collaborative funding programme to support better career and professional development opportunities for people working in adult social care, and specifically those working with people in later life.

A call for Expressions of Interest, looking for partners to lead ambitious projects in adult social care workforce development, was open between Monday 13th November 2023 and Wednesday 10th January 2024. More information on funded projects will follow later in the year. 

The Rayne Foundation believes – and evidence shows[1] - that providing better career and professional development opportunities for people working in care will result in better care for those who need it most.  The Foundation has funded organisations supporting care for people in later life since its founding in 1962 and for many years, improved quality of life for older people and their carers has been an area of special interest.  

The Foundation is now developing the proactive funding programme Better Careers for Better Care, focused on workforce development within social care for people in later life. This is a new focus and approach for the Foundation and follows several years exploring and testing how the Foundation’s resources could be used to have the greatest positive impact on the quality of life for older people and their carers. Learn more about our journey, learning and rationale here and here.

We want to work alongside sector leaders and innovators to develop ambitious proposals for funding and collaboration with the potential to transform career and development opportunities for care workers working with people in later life. 

The Foundation has earmarked £2 million to Better Careers for Better Care. Our funding is available to organisations working in England in the first instance, acknowledging that each national health and care context is distinct. We hope to fund programmes in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the future. Our initial aim is to achieve a geographical spread across England with grants made in both urban and rural settings, guided by the applications received.

On this webpage:

Funding priorities

Through our discussions with leaders in the social care sector, we have identified the following areas of work that we believe could have a transformative impact for care workers and the people they work with:

  1. Recognising, acknowledging, and championing the value and skills of care workers.
  2. Sustainable recruitment into the social care workforce.
  3. Design and delivery of career progression opportunities for staff across the social care workforce, and the support needed to access them.
  4. Development of social care leaders.
  5. Empowering and enabling social care leaders to contribute to strategy and policy 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 the 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.

We have asked applicants to demonstrate that they are:

  1. listening to and/or committed to involving the voice of care workers in their plans to improve staff development opportunities;
  2. collaborating actively with the wider care landscape in their area and building on any existing, related work;
  3. working to build equity, diversity and inclusion as central tenets within workforce development and career progression plans;
  4. contributing funding and/or significant in-kind support to the initiative to show their commitment (relative to the capacity of the applicant organisations); and
  5. thinking about opportunities for wider application and dissemination of the results of their work.

The Rayne Foundation acknowledges that:

  • The social care sector remains under huge pressure due to long-standing staffing issues.
  • The impact of these initiatives will be limited without funding and pay reform; that said, pay on its own will not address all the challenges.
  • There is no one single solution to the many and varied workforce challenges within adult social care, and action is needed at multiple levels to contribute to change at a systems level.

Grant-making process

The grant-making process has been designed using the Foundation's working values as a framework, and aims to be trusting, collaborative, creative and rigorous.

In recognition of the time and energy it takes to apply for funding, we asked for applicants to submit an Expression of Interest in the first instance.  Shortlisted applicants will then develop full applications alongside the Foundation staff team. The open funding call is now closed. 

Acknowledging the expertise and experience that exists within the social care sector, an Assessment Panel is supporting the grant-making process, comprising four External Advisors, two Trustees and one staff member. The External Advisors bring lived and learned experience of the social care sector, and professional expertise.

The grant-making process is made up of the following steps:





Open call for Expressions of Interest

13 Nov 2023 – 10 Jan 2024


Expressions of Interest longlisted. Longlisted EOIs reviewed and scored by Assessment Panel (representing 70% of final score)

10-31 Jan 2024


Interview longlisted orgs/partnerships (representing 30% of final score) by sub-section of Assessment Panel

22-31 Jan 2024


Finalise shortlist of proposals to develop to full application and feedback to unsuccessful applicants

By 14 Feb 2024


Collaborative development of full applications – shortlisted organisations and staff team, with input from Assessment Panel as helpful

Feb 2024 onwards


Applications taken to Board for decision

June 2024 onwards


Once the grants have been awarded, the Programme Development Lead will continue to work alongside the funded organisations to ensure progress and learning is captured and shared. An evaluation partner will also support the funded organisations to track impact and draw out learning.

What we will fund

The Foundation recognises that to have an impact at a systems level, many different organisations need to be engaged. We also recognise that our funding alone cannot enable transformation of career and development opportunities for care workers in adult social care. For these reasons, we are particularly likely to fund:

  • Partnership bids which bring together organisations with different perspectives, experiences and skill-sets. We have asked one organisation to take responsibility as lead applicant.
  • Proposals that are part of a broader change and transformation agenda focused on the social care workforce.
  • Proposals that address identified barriers to workforce development with creativity and innovation, contributing to the evidence base for best practice.  
  • Proposals that take a strengths-based approach and unlock people’s potential.
  • Proposals that acknowledge and value the diversity of the care workforce, as well as people in later life drawing on care, and centre equity and inclusion in their approaches to workforce development.
  • Proposals between 1 and 3 years, up to the total value of £300,000 depending on the scale of ambition and the partnerships involved.

Our first grant, made in summer 2023, is to the North Central London (NCL) Councils in support of their Social Care Workforce Programme, which includes workstreams focused on recruitment, progression and skills development, and wellbeing. The Foundation has funded two elements of the broader programme. The first is a Leadership and Integration programme to develop social care leaders with the confidence, skills, and relationships to participate in the Integrated Care Board. The Foundation hopes that this will enable and empower the voice of social care within strategic, decision-making spaces. The second is contributing to the development of a co-designed Apprenticeship Programme. The Foundation’s funding will support providers to release their staff to participate in apprenticeship programmes by funding the organisational costs of hosting apprenticeships. Providers had identified this as a barrier to taking up existing apprenticeship opportunities and the Foundation’s funding will test this theory.  

Our exclusion criteria for our responsive grant programmes do not apply on this occasion. 

The funding relationship

Through Better Careers for Better Care, the Foundation seeks to learn more about innovative approaches to entrenched challenges within the social care workforce. This learning will inform future funding aimed at improving the quality of life for carers and people in later life.

For those applicants that receive a grant, the funding relationship will be one of collaborative partnership and open communication. The Foundation and partner organisations will ensure regular opportunities exist to share progress, learning and challenges across the funded projects and the Better Careers for Better Care programme of funding.

The Foundation has commissioned an external evaluator of the Better Careers for Better Care funding programme. Bean Research will create an impact framework for the funding programme and clarity on key outcomes that will evidence impact.  Partner organisations will be expected to work with the evaluators to capture learning throughout the course of the grant. The evaluator will work collaboratively with partner organisations to utilise monitoring and evaluation already in place and reduce any additional administrative burden, providing appropriate tools to support organisations to understand – and report – the difference made.  Where possible and appropriate, partner organisations will facilitate the contribution of relevant stakeholders, including care workers, to the external evaluation. 

What we will expect from partner organisations:

  • To share strategic thinking, insights and learning with us throughout the course of the grant, as is possible and appropriate.
  • To work with the evaluators to capture progress and learning.
  • To participate in networks and other opportunities to share learning and develop practice, including some events facilitated by the Foundation.

What partner organisations can expect from us:

  • A flexible and collaborative approach to grant-making and evaluation, in which we are open to challenge and change.
  • Creativity in where our funding can be directed to facilitate transformative change.
  • Commitment to building a shared understanding with funded partner organisations of what success looks like which is both aspirational and realistic.
  • Support via our evaluation partner Bean Research to capture and evidence impact in a way that enables organisations to build a case for sustainable investment.
  • Participation in networks and events organised by partner and other relevant organisations to share learning and develop best practice.
  • Using our networks and influence to support positive change within adult social care.
  • Use of our meeting room facilities in central London.

Find out more from the Programme Manager here.


[1]  Skills for Care Rapid Evidence Assessment: adult social care and factors associated with productivity and work performance, published 2017

Towers A, Smith N, Allan S, Vadean F, Collins G, Rand S, et al. Care home residents' quality of life and its association with CQC ratings and workforce issues: the MiCareHQ mixed-methods study. Health Serv Deliv Res 2021;9(19)