Doing More With Less resources

The idea of doing more with less is not a new one but is becoming increasingly more relevant in the field of providing quality services for people with disabilities. Since resource allocation is at the heart of effective social services, it is imperative that there is more of a focus on effective methods of guarantee their quality. Conferences organized by the EPR have highlighted this focus. For example, the EPR’s 2019 annual conference “Less is More? Rethinking Resources for Quality Services” brought expert perspectives on how organisations could rethink how to make the best use of resources that they have to provide quality services. Hannalore Taal gave reference to the role digitalisation plays in delivering personalised treatment and empowering patients while Kristof Daas highlighted the need for a new authority that emphasises rehabilitation rather than punishment in dealing with children.

Other organisations such as the European Social Services (ESS) have also had conferences on this subject. At the 25th ESS conference, Jaideep Prabhu explained how the West could learn from developing countries such as India in becoming more accustomed to doing more with less. To Prabhu, good public services should only be considered as such if they are designed to put the citizen first and by having an understanding of issues within their own context. Furthermore, he argued that Western governments can learn from an approach known as Jugaad Innovation which turns a lack of resources, whether material or financial, into a competitive advantage. Flexibility, inclusion and frugality are at the core of Jugaad methodology and has been practiced extensively in resource strained markets such as China and India.

Thus there are a diverse set of approaches in fulfilling the desire of doing more with less and they must be utilised in a way that complements delivering services of the highest quality to our users.

Innovation and technology can support Doing more with less, whether is less resources doing environmental, social and economic changes, or whether is a shift to more sustainable services as  The British Journal of Social Work, (Volume 42, Issue 4, June 2012, Pages 744–764) states on the article available here. Supporting sustainable practices keeping high quality services. Using innovative systems of social services based on a co-production approach, with 'strong leadership, innovative thinking and meaningful incentives'. 

Community-led care models, co-production and a shift in economy that allows for people to take more care of others and can actively engage in their community and strengthening our social security will be a way to lead quality social services that keep doing more even with less. (Sustainable social care, New Economics Foundation article here).

Working Group on the Digitalisation of Social Services

The European Social Network launched a Working Group (2019-21) on the increasing role of technology in social services. The WG was brought about due to the issue of the social services sector facing financial pressure across Europe. As a result of an aging population and public budgets being cut, it is evident that technological innovation can help social services do more with less. This can be achieved through such things as assistive technology and artificial intelligence.

For more information, see here.  

OECD: Integrating Social Services for Vulnerable Groups

In an effort to better integrate social services, the OECD recorded various measures to make them more efficient. This includes information sharing between different social enterprises, outcomes orientated strategies, early intervention and prevention. It also devised two types of evaluation methods: a cost benefit analysis (CBA) and cost effectiveness analysis (CEA). CBA enables evaluators to the costs of a policy with its benefits measured in monetary terms. CEA compares the costs of meeting policy objectives measured in social outcomes. These must be balanced to ensure that high quality social services can be provided at less cost.

For more information, see chapter 6 of “Integrating Social Services for Vulnerable Groups”

IBM: Smarter Social Services

In IBM’s book on enabling smarter government, the authors state that social service organisations are under increasing pressure to do more with less as a result of responsibilities towards the clients they serve and the taxpayers who fund them. It identifies the issue of social service budgets being cut while there is an increased demand for more numerous high quality services. To address this problem, IBM proposes the Smarter Social Services model which aims to ensure that the cost of successful outcomes will be reduced by streamlining business processes and focusing employees on high value activities.

For more information, see chapter 1 section 1.2.2 of “Enabling Smarter Government with Analytics to Streamline Social Services”

Responsive Leadership in Social Services

Stephen de Groot identifies that limited resources and fiscal restraints contribute to the stress encountered by the social service workforce. The pressure to do more with less do not bode well in an industry with low wages and a shortage of funds for early intervention. Poor retention and high turnover of staff contributes to further stress among the already busy employees. This can be seen in the results of a national survey of child welfare workers in Canada describing a high workload as the greatest obstacle to good practice. Thus there is a significant problem with employees maintaining a balance between workload demands and preferred ways of helping.

For more information, see chapter 1 of “Responsive Leadership in Social Services”