Skip to navigation Skip to main content

Valuing Independence

Boosting independence for 100,000 people by eradicating unnecessary demand in social care.

The challenge

There is a commonly-held illusion that the social care system can be controlled and that it can best be improved by taking a linear approach to each element of the system, thereby driving out efficiencies. While over the past decade, in the face of growing demand and smaller budgets, many councils have made significant savings, this is not sustainable and doesn’t always deliver better outcomes.

At IMPOWER, we believe adult social care should be reframed around creating value in citizens’ lives, and in particular maximising their independence. In practice, this means taking every opportunity at every point in the system to promote independence and positive outcomes. It also means ruthlessly seeking out opportunities where any action, intervention or lack of intervention does not maximise value in people’s lives. We call this eradicating unnecessary demand.

In every social care system we have examined, local practitioners have analysed that in at least 20% of cases, we do not maximise value and independence. The closer we can get this figure to zero, the better.

Our solution

Giving up current models of control, even if they are illusory, is scary. It should only be done if there is a better alternative. We call the alternative building a Target Demand System. This combines building a new detailed analytical view of demand so trajectories can be understood and reacted to in real time. It also means focusing in on specific behaviours and decisions right across the system, which requires behavioural science and new performance management systems. This adds up to both an overall culture change, and a new operating model.

Through this approach we have already helped improve thousands of lives and save over £30 million across 10 councils. Building on this track record, we want to reach a further 100,000 people.

Our approach

Since 2013, we have worked on demand-led change projects with more than 20 Departments of Adult Social Services. We have learned that:

  • Benefits realisation and their trajectories must be set up as early as possible so that there is a robust and shared understanding of the benefits of the new systems, and of how operational practice and systematic approaches drive results.
  • Working closely with council staff to understand the current system and then co-designing a new operating model together is key to getting that new model right. It is essential that the team feel genuine ownership so that they can fully and authentically transition to new ways of working.
  • An iterative approach produces a culture of continuous improvement, helps to embed the change, and allows specific interventions, cohorts or teams to be focused on.
  • To ensure that maximising independence can become the central focus for adult social care and that savings are achieved, it is essential that human behaviour change and culture change are given the same priority as process and structure change.

Work with us

Relationships start with a conversation. Here’s how to get in touch.

Since January 2019, IMPOWER has helped boost the independence of


Success in Ealing: ‘we run the reports and blink at each other in amazement’

Guest blogpost written by Adenike Tilleray, Head of Business Management, Adults’ Services, Ealing Council It is January 2020. A brand-new…

January 13, 2020

The General Election – another missed opportunity for adult social care

Complex systems can be managed if those involved have a shared ambition and are clear on what good outcomes look like. 

December 9, 2019

Which Councils Are Best? 2019

Our new report is out: which councils are in the Top 10 this year?

November 13, 2019

Which councils are best at the NCAS Conference?

I am looking forward to the annual pilgrimage to the National Children and Adult Services Conference taking place from 20-22…

November 13, 2019

5 Fast-Forwards, 3 months on: how is it being used?

Since the July launch of our report ‘5 Fast-Forwards for Social Care’ which reframed the problem for delivering a sustainable…

November 4, 2019

What we learned about transitions from our Shared Learning Event

A few weeks back, IMPOWER brought together representatives from 13 different local authorities for a Shared Learning Event on transitions…

October 29, 2019

Guest blogpost: Embracing EDGEWORK through the Adults Positive Challenge

My journey within the Technology Enabled Care (TEC) service has incorporated various elements of EDGEWORK into our practice, with tangible results.

October 24, 2019

The impossible commitment in the Queen’s Speech

Ensuring dignity in old age is a challenge to be taken on - but we all need to get involved, not just central government.

October 18, 2019

The bad behavioural science of more money for local government

More money for local government is good news – as long as the response to it is the right one

October 4, 2019


Sign up for the latest thinking on delivering sustainable change and better public services

No spam; unsubscribe easily at any time. Learn more in our Privacy Policy.