Firmer future for Scie as it wins contract to produce care guidance

Social Care Institute for Excellence and partners awarded £1.8m-a-year contract to produce care quality guidance as it prepares to lose core government funding.

Photo credit: Tore Bjerkholt/Rex Features

The Social Care Institute for Excellence and partners have won a contract to develop social care good practice guidance, providing a more secure future for Scie as it prepares to lose core government funding.

The three-year, £1.8m-a-year contract to provide the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) Collaborating Centre for Social Care (NCCSC) will support Nice to fulfil its responsibility to develop social care quality standards and guidance, which is effective from April 2013. At that point, Scie’s core grant from government – worth £2.5m in 2012-13 – will cease.

Scie chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said winning the tender was “one part of [ensuring] the sustainability” of Scie from April 2013 onwards.

About the guidance

The guidance is designed to provide a “comprehensive set of [good practice] recommendations for particular situations based on the best evidence available”, said Nice deputy chief executive Professor Gillian Leng.

The NCCSC will be tasked by Nice with producing guidance on six social care topics at a time, across children’s and adults’ services, as agreed with the Department of Health and Department for Education. Scie will work with four partners: the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at Kent University and the London School of Economics; the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (Eppi-Centre) at the Institute for Education; Research in Practice (RIP), and Research in Practice for Adults (Ripfa).

For each guidance topic, a team including staff from Scie, PSSRU and Eppi-Centre will review existing evidence of what works in practice and carry out economic analysis, to develop the guidance; once the guidance has been published, Scie will work with RIP and Ripfa to disseminate and promote its adoption by social care professionals, providers and commissioners.

Where insufficient evidence exists for a particular topic, recommendations will be based on professional consensus, but Nice will also flag up evidence gaps to government and research bodies so they can be filled. Nice will use the guidance to produce quality standards for different areas of social care, setting out what high-quality care looks like, backed by indicators to help organisations measure how well they are doing.

Future of Scie

The NCCSC will be one of three divisions of Scie under a new structure that the institute is developing, alongside a corporate services directorate, covering functions such as IT and HR, and an innovation and development directorate, which will be responsible for services for which Scie charges.

Apart from the centre, Scie will seek to build income from specific projects for the DH and DfE related to social care improvement, from services, such as its consultancy work, and from products such as the Find Me Good Care website, which is designed to help people choose care services.

Sutcliffe said Scie wanted to be known as the “improvement body for social care”. “We want to diversify our income so we are not dependent on the Nice collaborating centre or specific commissions,” she added.

She said the institute was in talks with the DH about projects it could deliver for government in 2013-14, and that, until its work programme for the next financial year is decided, she would not be able to confirm how many staff Scie would need from April onwards.

Recruitment of chair

Meanwhile, Scie has started recruiting a new chair to replace Allan Bowman, who is due to step down after seven years at the helm. It said it was looking for someone who was “politically and commercially astute”, “confident in engaging and building effective relationships” and with “a strong understanding of social care and empathy with its values.”

The chair would receive £30,000 a year for the two-day-a-week job; applications close on 27 January.

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