Well, the dissemination phase is coming to a close and we can reflect on the great success that the project’s achieved in a short time. Around 200 people came to one of our events (Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds or London) and many more have learnt about the project through the promotion of the website and toolkit. As a team, we have used those sessions to continue to think about how to improve the tools, and to refine the way that we introduce and talk about them. If you have used any of the tools or approaches developed during the project’s first phase, please get in touch; we’d love to hear about your experiences, and can help you to develop a case study which would share what you’ve learnt with others.
The next phase of the project is about applying what we’ve developed to a broader range of policy issues. The Troubled Families programme and Ending Gang and Youth Violence initiative continue to be important, but we have always said that the same issues are likely to come up, whatever sort of information needs to be shared, and we have tried to develop the tools to make them useful in those other situations.
I’ve spent a bit of time this week catching up with new policy areas where information sharing is vital. First on my list has been the recently published commitment to the integration of health and social care: “Integrated Care and Support – Our Shared Commitment”. The document paints a compelling picture of the need to radically overhaul the health and social care sectors, to enable them to work together more effectively to meet the ever-growing needs of an ageing population. At the moment, the NHS sometimes struggles to share information within its own service, so the scale of the challenge shouldn’t be underestimated. However, it’s a really positive sign to see this significant commitment to working together (and sharing information) in order to put patients and service users at the heart of everything.
The other publication I’ve found interesting this week comes from the Alliance for Useful Evidence (I’ve managed to resist the temptation to set up a competing ‘Alliance for Useless Evidence’!). The Alliance is a network of organisations and individuals who champion the use of evidence in social policy, and their recent publication “Squaring the Circle” considers the use of evidence at local level. The author, Derrick Johnstone, highlights the role that evidence plays throughout the policy making and service delivery process at local level: from understanding needs, to delivering services, to monitoring success and evaluating investment. He makes a number of suggestions on how to improve practice: leaders need to foster a culture of valuing evidence; access to good quality data needs to be enhanced; and the users of data (not just analysts!) need to have the right skills to get the most value. You can read his blogpost on the Alliance’s website: http://www.alliance4usefulevidence.org/squaring-the-circle2/. All interesting stuff, and plenty of food for thought as the IISaM project moves into its next phase.