Nurturing the seeds of change

Over the last decade, Nesta has supported some of the best people-powered health and care innovations to scale their impact and demonstrate the value and potential of these approaches.

This paper draws insights from 16 innovators which have successfully scaled their people-powered health and care innovations over the past five years.

The social innovations whose experiences we draw from were a range of high-impact approaches, selected for their scaling readiness and ability to impact the lives of many more people. Each innovation had already been developed and tested, and could demonstrate positive signs of transformative impact. They came in a broad range of forms – some were start-up ventures such as GoodGym or The Cares Family, some were from larger established charities such as British Red Cross or Carers UK, and some were from within public services but in partnership with civil society such as City of York Council’s Community Health Champions.

The innovations were also highly varied – from peer support networks for people experiencing long-term health conditions to social groups to support reduced loneliness and isolation. They had different audiences, and operated in different parts of the country. Yet their work and ways of scaling showed clear patterns – common insights into what successful scaling can look like and consist of.

Key findings

  • Scaling is frequently written about in simplistic, linear terms which bear little resemblance to the realities and experiences of social innovations. The success of the innovations within this paper relied on a wider understanding of scaling than simply growing an organisation and reaching more people.
  • Innovations were only able to scale when the right scaling conditions were present, enabled particularly when funders and public services could play a role in fostering and enabling the context for the work and wider change.
  • The experiences and insights of the innovations reflected a number of common characteristics that underpinned their success in how they were able to scale their impact. We structured those insights around the framework below – illustrating the behaviours that support people-powered health and care innovations to scale.
An illustrated framework from Nurturing the seeds of change

An illustrated framework from Nurturing the seeds of change

Authors

Alice Clay

Alice Clay

Alice Clay

Programme Manager, Health Lab

Alice focused on Digital Health projects, new technologies, and ways we can create and use data to empower people to improve their health and wellbeing.

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Amy Solder

Amy Solder

Amy Solder

Head of Adult Skills Innovation, Innovation Programmes

Amy works in the Education team.

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Carrie Deacon

Carrie Deacon

Carrie Deacon

Director of Government and Community Innovation

Carrie was Director of Government and Community Innovation at Nesta, leading our work on social action and people-powered public services.

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Chris Norris

Chris Norris

Chris Norris

Senior Programme Manager, Innovation Programmes

Chris Norris is a Senior Programme Manager working on the Accelerating Ideas programme.

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Sarah Mcloughlin

Sarah Mcloughlin

Sarah Mcloughlin

Senior Programme Manager

Sarah was a Senior Programme Manager.

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