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Social Care in the UK’s Four Nations: Between Two Paradigms

White text on blue background: Seminar Series, Social Care in the UK’s Four Nations: Between Two Paradigms, Professor Catherine Needham and Patrick Hall (University of Birmingham) Tuesday 9th May 2023 12:30- 14:00 GMT

On 9th May we virtually welcomed Centre for Care Co-Investigator, Professor Catherine Needham, and Patrick Hall from the University of Birmingham, to present ‘Social Care in the UK’s Four Nations: Between Two Paradigms’.

Date: Tuesday 9th May 2023

Online event. Recording now available, press play below.

About the seminar

This seminar reports findings from our new book which compares the four adult social care systems of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We highlight points of discursive convergence on the goals of social care reform, but divergence in effectiveness in making policy to address these goals. We explain this through key institutional factors in the policy communities of the four nations – scale, style and scope – with Scotland having the most conducive environment in which to address care issues. Nonetheless, Scotland, like the other nations, has struggled with implementation due to a failure to acknowledge and debate the tensions within the ‘policy mix’. Drawing on extensive interviews with national and local policy makers across the UK, alongside document analysis, we highlight two rival care paradigms. Care policy gets stuck because policy makers in the four nations fail to acknowledge the tensions of calling for fluidity, differentiation, informality and co-production while also arguing for standardisation, regulation, formality and risk avoidance. Correcting decades of drift in social care policy requires an appreciation of how to manage the tensions between these two paradigms rather than blithely hoping for a best of both worlds.

About the presenters

Catherine Needham profile picture
Professor Catherine Needham, University of Birmingham

Catherine Needham is Professor of Public Policy and Public Management at the Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham. Her research focuses on social care, including personalisation, co-production, personal budgets and care markets. She has published a wide range of articles, chapters and books for academic and practitioner audiences. Catherine led the Care in the Four Nations work package within the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Sustainable Care team. She is now leading research on care systems as part of the ESRC Centre for Care and is also a member of IMPACT, the UK centre for evidence implementation in adult social care. She tweets as @DrCNeedham.

Patrick Hall profile picture
Patrick Hall, University of Birmingham

Patrick Hall is a social care policy researcher, currently undertaking an ESRC-funded PhD at the University of Birmingham on care commissioning. He was the main researcher on the Care in the Four Nations work package within the ESRC Sustainable Care team. Prior to that he contributed to the European Commission’s 2018 peer review of Germany’s latest long-term care reforms. Patrick is a former Fellow of the King’s Fund, where he co-authored two key publications on social care for older people. Before the King’s Fund, he worked with the Department of Health and Social Care, local authorities and NHS organisations on the implementation of the Care Act 2014.

Centre for Care Seminar Series

In this seminar series we invite colleagues, partners and experts, whose work aligns with the mission of our Centre, to share their work with us and our audiences, to deepen our understanding of the critical issues in social care in the UK and around the world.

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