Our challenge is to support the transformation of social services so that people are enabled to lead self-determined lives in the community.

Challenges worldwide

Governments invest significant resources every year in an effort to provide support to those in need but there are increasing numbers of people dependent on social services and costs are rising. There has also been a significant shift in citizens' expectations of social and public services in recent years. People want services that are flexible and personalised to their needs while also expecting more cost-efficiency and value-for money (Accenture, 2012).

Evidence shows that personalised, targeted social services achieve better outcomes for people than standardised, 'one-size-fits-all' approaches. Personalised services put the person at the heart of service design and delivery. It means giving people what they need, when and where they need. These types of services have also proven to be more cost-effective and sustainable (Accenture, 2012McConkey et al., 2013). 

However, transforming large scale social services is very challenging. As governments continue to fund legacy services, the gap in funding required by social systems continues to grow with the increase in the numbers of people living into their eighties and nineties and fewer people working. By 2025 it is estimated that the shortfall in the UK will be USD 170bn; in France, USD 100bn; in Germany, USD 80bn; in Italy, USD 30bn and USD 940bn in the US (Accenture, 2012). 

Meanwhile, private investors and philanthropists interested in improving the lives of those who are disadvantaged often fund the development of good services but their hopes that these will be adopted and mainstreamed on the basis of proven success alone have generally been shown to be overly optimistic.

Challenges in Ireland

In Ireland we have traditionally invested in group-focussed, one-size-fits-all responses, which have left thousands of people living apart from their families and communities; many in institutions and group homes with little choice or control over their own lives. 

Social services in Ireland are very complex.  For historical reasons, they are delivered by a large network of non-governmental organisations. The number of stakeholders and the complexity of the relationships is a key challenge for government in transforming services. 

Government services also have faced significant financial challenges over the past few years due to resource constraints, reductions in funding and the implementation of saving targets. This challenge comes at a time when expectations and demand for services is increasing every year along with costs. The population is now at its highest level since 1861 and will likely increase beyond 5 million by 2026 and beyond 6 million by 2046 (CSO, 2013). Life expectancy has increased with an expected increase of chronic disease by 40% by 2020 (IPH, 2010).

Government and government agencies have responsibility for spending public funding wisely, so with finite resources locked into the current way of providing services, there is little funding available to innovate.
In many cases, third parties, such as NGOs and philanthropic organisations, try to innovate and change things from the outside by doing short term projects that may be successful for three to five years and then disappear. There is often an expectation that government will get on board once all the decisions have been made, which very often, doesn’t work. There needs to be a sense of co-creation from the outset.

Specialists in transforming social services

We work with Government and Philanthropy
to support people in leading self-determined lives

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Pearse St., Dublin 2, D02 YH27, Ireland
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