Skills for Care

The Care Innovation Challenge celebrates opportunities for the social care sector

18 Apr 2023

5 min read

Skills for Care

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The Care Innovation Challenge is an opportunity to explore innovations for social care, and there’s still time to apply for this year. We found out more about the challenge from our colleague who participated last year.

What is The Care Innovation Challenge?

The Care Innovation Challenge is an annual event to explore innovative new ideas to support the social care sector.

The Challenge, hosted by the Care Innovation Hub (CIH), is run by the National Care Forum (NCF) and is supported by Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) through their National Co-production Advisory Group (NCAG).

The challenge is open to everyone and aims to bring together people from inside the adult social care sector – employees and people who draw on care and support – with people from outside the sector.

This allows people from all walks of life to learn from each other, and provides an opportunity for people outside of the social care sector to gain more awareness about how social care works.

The challenge runs over a full weekend, with an in-person event where all applicants get together in teams and work on their ideas for a new product or service that could address a challenge in the social care sector.

The first part of the weekend involves creating and designing ideas, followed by pitching ideas to the judging panel. There are also talks and presentations from experts within the social care sector including people with lived experience, to help develop the ideas.

A shortlist of five finalist teams is selected. The finalists are awarded £500 funding and further mentoring to help them develop their idea, which they have the opportunity to present to the public at The Care Show.

Attendees at The Care Show cast their vote for their favourite idea with the judging panel then selecting the final winner. The winning team is awarded £1000 to progress their idea.


How can you apply?

Applications are still open for the 2023 cohort but will be closing on 28 April, so make sure to apply soon if you’re interested.

You can apply as an individual or as part of a team, and it’s free to apply.

The Care Innovation Hub says creative thinkers, anyone who has a passion for making ideas a reality and people who want to make a positive difference to people’s lives are invited to apply.

This year’s event will take place on 1-2 July at Coventry University.

On the Care Innovation Hub website you can find the application form to apply for your spot.


Lauren’s experience

Last year, one of Skills for Care’s locality managers Lauren Stacey – who also works as a support professional for adults with a learning disability - was part of the winning team.

Lauren found out about the challenge through LinkedIn and thought it looked like a great learning experience.

Lauren applied as an individual and once there she teamed up with a student named Megan who was studying innovation at university.

Lauren and Megan designed a banking app called ChIP, which stands for Cash for Independent People, which was specially tailored to suit the accessibility needs of people with a learning disability.

Some of the features of the app included a simplified interface, alternative security options rather than a password, and visual representations of ‘budget pots’ to support people in managing money for different purposes.

They co-produced the idea with people who draw on care and support to get their insights.

The idea was inspired by Lauren’s experience in her support professional role, where she’d noticed that while many of the people she supports are very independent in most areas of their life, they often struggle when it comes to financial independence and tend to have a reliance on cash and in-person banking rather than newer digital solutions.

Following their presentation at the challenge weekend, Lauren and Megan were shortlisted as finalists and progressed on to present their idea at The Care Show.

They were mentored by Paula Fairweather of TLAP who Lauren says was ‘amazing’ and ‘so generous with her time’, and David Collins of Person Centred Software who provided great guidance around technology and business development.

After their exhibition at The Care Show, team ChIP was selected as the winners and awarded £1000.

Lauren highlights that the challenge is not only for people who are looking to start a business – that’s not her intention from participating. Instead, the real benefit was about getting the opportunity to think differently and be in a space which allows real creative freedom with no restrictions.

She encourages anyone with creative ideas who would appreciate that dedicated time for innovation to consider applying this year.


Find out more about The Care Innovation Challenge and how to get involved.

Find more inspiring and positive stories from the social care sector with our #CelebratingSocialCare spotlight.

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