Social care covers a huge range of services and sectors. Two major UK projects in recent years show how BIT is helping to support this diverse and often overlooked sector.
Child fostering services in Bristol
Fostering services in Bristol and elsewhere do their best to support foster carers in their challenging roles, but it can be difficult to provide help at the right time and make foster carers feel supported.
BIT received funding from Bristol City Council to identify ways to support foster carers more effectively through the application of behavioural science. Based on qualitative research and a scan of the relevant academic literature, we identified a range of potential applications.
Given the service’s priorities, we developed a social support intervention where new foster carers were asked to nominate a family member or friend as a supporter. Both parties received regular text messages that aimed to encourage and normalise regular check-ins with the aim of making foster carers feel more supported.
Carers in Essex
Around 145,000 carers across Essex provide vital support to friends or relatives who need help with daily living. If carers do not access support, this can lead to carer breakdown with poor outcomes for both carer and care recipient and high costs for statutory services.
BIT and Essex County Council worked together to develop a light-touch, preventative offer of support for carers across Essex who experience a range of barriers to living their best possible lives. These barriers included:
- Identifying as a carer. Many carers fail to recognise their role as a carer or the strain caring has on them. Irrespective of whether they are aware of their situation, many carers fail to access support because they are not aware of what support is available.
- Living well as a carer. Carers who access support could receive more effective help. There are peer support groups across Essex, but not everybody can or wants to access these. There are missed opportunities in terms of connecting carers with each other and helping them to manage their own wellbeing.
We developed interventions to help tackle each of these challenges.