Aug 21

Making our new three year strategy come to life

Posted: 5 August 2021

Yesterday we launched our new three year strategy and here our CEO Oonagh Smyth considers how we can bring it to life as the sector enters a period of promised reform. 

If the vision of our new strategy is the “why” then the values are the “who” – who is this organisation and how will people experience us – that is what values articulate. I have worked in organisations where the values were on the walls in lovely posters, but no one lived them. That is not the case in Skills for Care. 

We took the opportunity to refresh our values, to ask whether our values reflected who we were and who we wanted to be and we felt that they needed updated. Our values are: 


We work together to create inclusive positive cultures where people are supported to feel safe, valued and respected.

We are Motivated to make a difference for people who work in and draw on adult social care.

We are Passionate and proud to be part of a sector that makes such a valuable contribution to society.

We are Ambitious, for adult social care because we know what a difference it makes to people's lives and our community.

We are Collaborative, recognising our strengths and those of others, working together to acheive positive change. 

We are Trustworthy, honest in how we work and transparent in what we want to achieve.



We are a deeply values driven organisation and being able to articulate that and use it to guide how we work is important – particularly when that feels difficult. For example, one of our values is inclusion. An example of how we live that value, even when it is not the easiest thing to do, is our pledge  to ensure that people drawing on care and support are meaningfully involved in events we are speaking at. We will turn down opportunities to talk about our work if it conflicts with our core value of inclusion.  

Another core value is ambition. We will focus on the impact we want to make and if this means we need to change what we do, even when that feels uncomfortable, we will change what we do. 

Our role 

One of the interesting reflections during the strategy process was that people did not always understand our role. We have taken the opportunity to set this out in a way that we think is clearer to help people understand our role better, but also support us to make sure that we are not trying to do too much. For people who are so passionate about social care, that is not easy because we want to do it all.  

Our role is to look across the whole system to understand the key drivers of change in social care, and the characteristics and skills needed to meet the needs of people now and in the future. We do not do this alone. Central Government sets policy and direction, agrees frameworks and ensures the right funding is in place. The Care Quality Commission has an important role as the regulator, as do local authorities in their market shaping and commissioning roles. Providers have a key role as they are responsible for employing, maintaining, and developing their staff and the quality of care and support they provide. Have a look at our specific roles in the strategy which includes our role in workforce planning which we want to grow so that social care has a much better idea of the types of roles and skills we will need now and in the future. This was also one of the core themes in the framework for a workforce strategy that we released with social care leaders recently.  

When you look at our role, you realise that it is big, and it is wide. The only way to make change happen at this scale is by: 

  • Acting together with others: Collaboration is at the heart of Skills for Care – and that is not just lip service. We have such a broad range of partnerships, and this is going to continue to be a fundamental part of how we work.  

  • Working both locally and nationally: We have repeatedly seen the power of having both a local and national presence. Our knowledge and the networks in our local teams are powerful and they allow us to involve people in creating solutions with the people who are directly affected – and we know that sector-led improvement is going to remain essential.  

  • Making sure that we are getting our message out: The knowledge and expertise that we have built up over decades supporting the workforce in social care means that we have so much insight, so many resources and tools. We must make sure that people can find these so that they make the most impact and that people understand what we do so that they can draw on our support. 

  • Thinking longer term about the policy framework supporting social care: Social care must be well-funded and reformed so that we have the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right jobs. It operates in a wide, complex system. One of our roles is to work with partners nationally to build on the strong evidence base that we have, to support reform of adult social care and a national, long-term workforce strategy, supporting relevant Government departments to understand and support adult social care workforce reforms. We work locally with partners to support as many commissioners and regulators as we can to commission with the workforce in mind. This includes integration bodies. We will not be a campaigning organisation; others play that role and they do it well.  

I firmly believe that change is possible if we combine and harness our partnerships, people, data, technology, and resources in coherent and creative ways. I am excited about our role in supporting a workforce of people that astonish me every day with their commitment and passion. I know that a strategy needs to change and adapt, it is a guide which helps you focus, but it cannot be a manual because the world changes too fast.  

Thank you to everyone who supported us to develop the strategy and thank you to everyone who will work with us as we deliver it and learn, and change.  

Find out more about our strategy.