If we are to improve, reshape and transform the social services based on the best available evidence we sometimes need to think big, tackle complexity, commit significant resources to changing things and to work with a wide range of people and organisations.
However, significant change can also be smaller scale. It can start at the grassroots. It can be about an individual consulting evidence to reflect on what they do and how effective it is, and to inform new ways of doing things.
That’s what I find particularly interesting about these awards. They’re not necessarily about a large scale project or process of transformational change. The scale of the change isn’t important to us it’s the significance of the change that we are interested in, so this could be an individual practitioner, manager or commissioner using evidence to achieve better outcomes for one person.
We’re looking for examples of how people use evidence of all types to improve what and how they do things. You might have learned about something from a colleague and put it into practice, acted on feedback from a person you support or changed what you do based on reading the latest research. The point is you’ve used evidence to think, change and improve how you do things, and that this has made a difference to a person or community you support.
We’re also looking for examples of evidence leadership. Perhaps you know someone who has argued for the need to invest time and resources to build and apply evidence, in the face of demands to act quickly or to continue doing what has been done before. Sometimes it takes just one person or team to make the effort to share learning and encourage others to think about doing things differently. If you’re that person or team we want to hear from you.
And one of the key points about these awards – as well as recognising good practice and innovation – is that we can share these examples, learn from how evidence is being used across the social services, and encourage further learning.
The use of evidence is central to the development and improvement of practice. We need to know whether social services are the best they can be and how we can strengthen the contribution we make. The Scottish Social Services Awards will be an opportunity to recognise the excellent evidence informed practice happening at the frontline of social services and to learn from these examples. I look forward to reading the nominations.