Social Innovation and the Health Services Research Centre (HSRC)
To foster and promote interdisciplinary and innovative health services research, the Alliance Manchester Business School created HSRC, which brings together health services researchers from four disciplines to drive innovative perspectives in research while making an impact on how health and social care is delivered.
Call to Action
Interdisciplinary research is vital when examining socially complex issues such as organizational strategy and delivery of health and social care. Those engaged in sector-specific studies are often distributed across (and perhaps isolated within) academic disciplines in business schools.
Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) recognized the immediate challenges facing health and social care as they relate to the aging population, as well as consequent increases in overall demand for care, unsustainable funding, complex business models, cuts to already limited budgets, and the care quality crisis. Moreover, the advent of these challenges means that difficult decisions about how to provide sustainable, local services must be reviewed and decided with much thought. The creation of the AMBS Health Services Research Centre (HSRC) provided a coordinating center for researchers from all four divisions of the school whose interests include health and social care.
This interdisciplinary work can and has generated innovative perspectives, for example, recent work on reshaping care for older people. A symposium brought together academics (accountants, organization scholars, policy researchers, and sociologists of work), practitioners (service commissioners, health providers, social care providers, professionals, careers), and older adults to examine the potential for social innovation in home care services for senior citizens.
By using the HSRC as vehicle for interdisciplinary research, councils and care providers are beginning to experiment and test a variety of social innovations arising from interdisciplinary research. This model for coordinating and maximizing the potential of interdisciplinary research can be applied in a variety of contexts and make a difference beyond health and social care.
Launched in November 2015, the Health Services Research Centre (HSRC) brings together health services researchers from across AMBS. The aims of the center are to promote interdisciplinary and innovative health services research, to provide a collective local identity, and to increase the national and international profile of AMBS health services research. The center has an important role in (1) shaping a research agenda and increasing research income, (2) ensuring that ongoing work and high-quality publications are disseminated effectively, and (3) promoting impact and building capacity among early career researchers and PhD candidates.
Reshaping care of seniors is one area of work where this innovative, organized form of coordination has come into its own. Public interest reports on the financing of residential care and the organization of home care services for senior citizens, produced by academics from several distinct disciplines, formed the foundation for a one-day symposium.
Built on interdisciplinary social research, the symposium brought together key stakeholders concerned with care of seniors to envision potential social innovations that improve the range of care provided. Participants ranged from academics, commissioners, lawyers, senior citizens, service providers, and social commentators, a multivariate group that was able to imagine and willing to test out a series of social innovations—new types of care provision—for senior citizens.
Early indicators of impact from this innovation are described here as the project is relatively new. The center has been able to provide a forum for interdisciplinary research that has an impact on how health and social care is delivered. For example, in the specific case of care of seniors there is momentum for change. We are working with local councils and research funders to extend and research a series of social experiments aimed at diversifying the range of alternatives available to older people beyond short home visits and residential care and toward models that focus on care outcomes rather than inputs.
The symposium, captured in a short video, brought together all the people required to examine the potential for innovative social experiments in providing care to elders; for example, by moving away from a single focus on cost, it was possible to envision how care might look when designed around the wishes of older people. These new forms of care would be no more expensive than care home services, for example.