The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is launching the Accelerating Reform Fund (ARF), which provides a total of £42.6 million in grant funding over 2023 to 2024 (£20 million) and 2024 to 2025 (£22.6 million), to support innovation in adult social care.
While the care sector has been innovating for decades, sometimes impactful innovations can remain on the margins, rather than becoming the mainstream way of delivering care and support. Through the ARF, the department wants to support the growth of services that make person-centred care a reality for those who draw on it, support unpaid carers to live healthy and fulfilling lives alongside their caring role and respond to rising demand and the changing needs of local populations. Collaboration and communication are vital to embedding and sustaining innovations. The ARF is designed to promote partnership working across local areas, as well as sharing of learning and best practice nationally.
The aim of the ARF is to address barriers to adopting innovative practices and build capacity and capability in adult social care.
The Minister of State for Care has written to all local authorities to set out the department’s priorities for innovation and scaling. These 12 priorities cover a broad range of areas under the 3 objectives of our 10-year vision for adult social care reform.
The aim of the ARF is to support the adoption or scaling of projects that deliver these priorities. In order to participate, we are asking local authorities to form consortia with other local authorities in their integrated care system (ICS) geography. Then, working together with the NHS and other partners, consortia should select 2 or more projects, with one project focused on an unpaid carer option (the priorities which are focused on unpaid carers are noted below), to scale using this funding. The aim of the grant is to kick-start development of projects that can be further supported through existing local authority funding.
Priority 1: community-based care models such as shared living arrangements
Priority 2: supporting people to have greater control over their care options, such as by using digital tools to self-direct support or communicate needs and preferences
Priority 3: investment in local area networks or communities to support prevention and promote wellbeing, enabling people to age well in their communities
Priority 4 (focusses on unpaid carers): ways to support unpaid carers to have breaks which are tailored to their needs
Priority 5: digital tools to support workforce recruitment and retention, for example through referral schemes
Priority 6: develop and expand the impact of local volunteer-supported pathways for people drawing on care and support
Priority 7 (focusses on unpaid carers): ways to conduct effective carer’s assessments with a focus on measuring outcomes and collaboration
Priority 8 (focusses on unpaid carers): services that reach out to, and involve, unpaid carers through the discharge process
Priority 9: digital workforce development and market shaping tools with capability to map, strengthen and grow local workforce capacity relative to system demand
Priority 10: social prescribing to connect people with information, advice, activities and services in the community
Priority 11 (focusses on unpaid carers): ways to better identify unpaid carers in local areas
Priority 12 (focusses on unpaid carers): ways to encourage people to recognise themselves as carers and promote access to carer services
Working in partnership with health partners, care providers, and voluntary and community groups will be essential to designing effective projects. You should also consider co-production with people drawing on care and/or unpaid carers and how projects reflect the diverse needs of your local populations.
As part of our ‘10-year vision for adult social care reform’ and Next steps to put People at the Heart of Care) we committed to kick-starting a change in the services provided for unpaid carers.
The ARF is provided to consortia with the purpose to develop at least one project that focusses on services for unpaid carers – priorities 4, 7, 8, 11 and 12 from the list above.
While other interventions are also expected to be designed with consideration to unpaid carers, we would like to see at least one project from each consortium that falls within these 5 categories dedicated to supporting unpaid carers.
The grant will be paid under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003 to the lead local authority chosen to receive the grant on behalf of their consortium of local authorities in each ICS area.
There should be only one consortium per ICS area which should consist of all local authorities within that ICS that wish to opt in to the fund. Local authorities that span multiple ICSs can choose which consortium they wish to join, should they choose to opt in to the fund. Local authorities may join only one consortium. Once the lead local authority has received the funding allocation, it can be distributed across the consortium as required.
Where it makes sense for the population being served or for the provision of services, 2 ICS consortia can submit a joint EOI outlining one lead local authority. A joint EOI should also include all local authorities within the 2 ICSs that wish to opt into the fund.
Each consortium is advised to also involve health partners, care providers, and voluntary and community groups in developing and delivering projects.
Once you have worked within your consortium to appoint a lead local authority and agree the projects to take forward, you will be required to submit an expression of interest (EOI) form to the department.
The EOI form is light-touch so that completing it can be as quick and simple as possible. The form asks for an overview of your plans, including: