On the 22nd of February the Young Foundation opened its doors to experts on health and social care innovation from across the world in order to help understand:
- How can we build health systems for the future?
- How can policy help to do this?
The session took place as part of the EU-funded SI DRIVE project, in collaboration with our partners at AIT from Austria and TNO from the Netherlands. Together with the participants we explored global goals for social innovation in health and social care and methods for getting us where we want to be.
With a diverse range of stakeholders, from funders to practitioners, in the room, the event yielded lively conversation and debate. What emerged were a number of key themes including:
- The need to build care systems that go beyond our traditional definitions of health and social care and put the wellbeing of people at their centre. Participants frequently spoke about embedding new cultures at all levels including: citizens, practitioners and policy makers. We should build society around people. By thinking about people as both contributors to, as well as beneficiaries of, community wellbeing we can start to create societies where the demands facing health and social care can more easily be tackled. In particular home and city planning was highlighted as an area where long-term health needs require greater attention and integration.
- There is a need to understand how social innovation principles can be applied to different societies. The event brought together participants with experiences of contexts well beyond the EU, including South Africa and China. These contexts are clearly very different from those of many EU countries, particularly in terms of policies and demands. It became clear that these different contexts are instrumental in how different innovations develop and progress. However, there are also still commonalities across contexts, in particular how social innovators can work to overcome barriers to innovation and the need to engage with policy makers and achieve their ‘buy-in’.
- Policy makers should look to the multitude of ways they can support social innovation, beyond funding. Whilst lack of funding, and particularly ‘follow-on’ funding, is an ever-present threat to innovation, there are a number of policy instruments, beyond this, that could help to stimulate innovation in this field. Policy makers can do a number of other things including working to address the timelines that social innovators have to meet, addressing the need for social innovators to demonstrate high impacts quickly, regulatory restrictions and providing safe spaces for people to innovate.
- There is clear scope for broader utilisation of the tools and methods of social innovation. The need for cultural change was a strong theme from the event. To bring this about there is the need for a greater embedding not just socially innovative ‘programmes’ but socially innovative practices, across the health system. This includes the need for a greater utilisation of co-design methodologies and the incentivising of approaches that bring together ‘unusual suspects’ and breaking down the silo’s that people work within.
This event will contribute towards the in-depth work that the Young Foundation, and the SI DRIVE project, is doing around health and social care innovation. It will help us to develop the next in our series of ‘SI DRIVE policy briefs’. If you would like to know any more about this event then please contact Charlotte Heales at email@example.com
SI DRIVE is a project designed to help understand the relationship between social innovation and social change and the Young Foundation lead the work package on health and social care. If you would like to find out more about this project further information is available on the SI DRIVE website: https://www.si-drive.eu/.