How can we best support citizens and communities to produce and consume evidence? The Scottish Approach to Evidence tackles the question.
Scotland is trying to change health and social care services to fit society’s needs and is starting to integrate the structures. This is being played out against the backdrop of rising demand and squeezed resources, and the question is what can help make the change?
More preventative, people focused services might hold the key?
This is a view reflected in Scottish Government policy, which calls for a shift towards public services that are more preventative, more holistic, that better include citizens in decision-making.
Although this approach is not unique to Scotland – see Nesta’s work on People Powered Health - calls for change have generally been strongest in the voluntary and community sector. However, in Scotland there is a consensus across all sectors about the value of co-production and partnership in public service reform.
How do we make this shift a success?
The Alliance for Useful Evidence makes the case that evidence has a role to play. We need a mix of evidence types, reflecting the complexity of more integrated services and the range of the Government’s vision, which is encapsulated in the outcomes-focussed National Performance Framework.
There are emerging challenges to be worked through. For example, what does robust co-produced research look like? How do we aggregate and make sense of diffuse data on individual outcomes and make best use of citizens’ stories?
How can we best support citizens and communities to produce and consume evidence?
While the paper focuses on Scotland, we think these challenges are shared with others working to improve lives in a people- centred way.
Developing a strong and accessible evidence base
The Scottish Approach to Evidence argues there is a distinctly Scottish approach to policy that emphasises community empowerment and cross-sectoral policies, but the approach to evidence needs to be developed to keep up with that.
We set out five steps that we need to take to get there:
We need allies to help us take these next steps: including evidence champions, opinion leaders, and role models to be messengers for the importance of evidence in developing outcomes-focussed services.
The Alliance for Useful Evidence is a network of over 3,000 allies. If you are one of those and interested in taking forward this work, in Scotland and beyond, please don’t hesitate to be in touch; or if you’ve yet to join the Alliance, please sign up here.