Making It Work or Making It Better: Workforce Potential in a Complex World

Making It Work or Making It Better: Workforce Potential in a Complex World

Sally Lawson (University of Leeds, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6155-2.ch025
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This reflective case history describes and reflects on an innovative workforce project for specialist health and care practitioners that ran in the northeast of England from 2009 to 2011. It draws on the findings from the project's change and benefit, action research, and realist evaluations to make the case for elevating and engaging more fully with workforce potential to address endemic and pervading complexity, change, and challenge. It identifies a key “diversity-opportunity” dynamic within the project, linked to learning and working differently, and making a difference. This is transferable to other adult learning, development, and change programs that are collaborative and outcome-focused, supporting evidence/experience-based practice.
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The Workforce Innovations Programme (Wip): The Project-In-Practice


The Workforce Innovations Programme (WIP) was set up by an unique commissioning-led, cross-sector Neurosciences Network (NENN) in the north east of England that was established in 2008. It was the Network’s response to regional workforce and service gaps for people living with long term neurological conditions in order to address the lack of progress in delivering the Quality Standards in the National Service Framework (NSF) for Long-term Conditions (DH, 2005). The NSF was strategic policy at the time and due for national review in 2010. Fortuitously, a two-year regional workforce development innovation fund became available in late 2008 under which the strategic funders’ ambitions for thinking outside the box aligned with those of the Neurosciences Network.

The Network made a successful bid for the Workforce Innovations Programme (WIP), with three integrated strands:

  • Forums: The strategic strand comprising four local forums covering the region, to support co-ordinated commissioning (contracting), re-design and delivery;

  • Website: The information and communication strand to provide a central point of access to resources, links and contacts; and

  • Mentoring Programme: The operational strand to develop the workforce, aligned with national policy and local need. This would run in parallel with the strategic work of the forums to ensure workforce readiness. This strand is the focus of this reflective case history.

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