Encouraging the Spread of New Care Models

All too often innovations in health and social care are slow to spread and scale, leaving the benefits – better health, longer lives, improved care – with the lucky few rather than with whole communities or populations.

There has been over five decades of research into scaling with impact. However, this research has rarely been absorbed into the practice of spreading and diffusing innovative ideas, services and processes in both local and national health systems. Most of the scaling plans we see today are actually based on a set of assumptions, or myths:

  • Myth 1: scaling and adoption are (just) informational issues 
  • Myth 2: innovations spread and scale through transfer from one organization (or locality) to another 
  • Myth 3: innovation and diffusion are separate and sequential processes 
  • Myth 4: increasing the pipeline of innovations increases the likelihood of scaling and adoption 
  • Myth 5: professionals are the key agents of scaling and diffusion 

So what really works in scaling innovation?

The key is to recognise these myths and employ more effective mechanisms for scaling and diffusion: organic growth, mobilising demand/movement building and enabling conditions.



 At Innovation Unit, we do just that. We have been supporting organisations and innovators from across the public sector to spread and scale promising practice, including:

  • Enabling older people to live independently for longer in Buckinghamshire through Prevention Matters; a programme designed to mobilise community capacity and social networks, that help signpost between existing community and statutory services before needs escalate. 
  • Mobilising teachers and students through the REAL Projects programme, and encouraging them to take control of their learning through a common guiding vision of an education fit for the 21st Century. 
  • The DFE Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme; inspiring change through a community of support - local authorities who have the statutory responsibility for supporting and protecting vulnerable children and young people, and other organisations working across social care, justice, health, education or other sectors