Within health and social care there is, understandably, a tendency to want to replicate successful initiatives across a county, region or even nationally.
However, with a place-based approach focusing so much on local relationships, facilities, services and needs, is it possible to export a specific place-based project to a different place?
Organisations often talk of ‘rolling out’ tried and tested innovations to new locations, but according to Charlotte Augst, that’s looking at it the wrong way.
“Don Redding, who used to work at National Voices, said we need to stop talking about rolling out innovation – it’s not a carpet that you can roll out, it’s parquet flooring.
“It needs to be laid in place, and it’s a bit bumpy and there’s a step here and there’s an awkward corner there, and therefore you need all the tools to lay your parquet so that it’s nice and smooth and shiny.
“And that’s probably the role of the centre or the AHSNs to say we need these tools, here is a map, here is what others have done to get around an awkward corner like yours, and to be that sort of enabler.”
Dan Lyus agrees that the AHSNs are well placed to support a place-based approach to projects. Since its inception seven years ago, the AHSN Network has developed a collaborative approach that can bring partners together to tackle urgent challenges through multi-sector partnerships.
“Where organisations have a way of looking at their local area which allows them to understand, at an early stage, where vulnerability lies and where the risks are, then the AHSNs are able to support them to respond to that,” he said.
“The AHSN Network is good at building the capability for improvement within a system. We understand the conditions that enable innovative practice to spread across the system, and have the skills to undertake an evaluation of a project’s impact and surface the learning while the project is occurring.”