Author: Stephanie Best, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Day One – Tuesday 25th June

Strand – Health & Well Being

Session Two: 2.45pm – 4.15pm

The necessity for innovation has been recognised in health and social care (H&SC) in Wales for some time as needs, demands and expectations rise unsustainably. Additional pressures such as access and a more rapidly ageing population result in rural communities experiencing this more acutely. The Rural Health Plan for Wales (WAG 2009) highlighted rural health inequalities and, underpinned by wider health and social care policies, aimed to act as a template for delivery of services across Wales – tailored more specifically to the needs of the rural population.

New approaches to delivery of health and social abound but do not diffuse easily (Berwick 2003, McCannon et al 2007) for multiple reasons including: contextual issues (Grol 2001, Greenhalgh et al 2010); absorptive capacity (Cohen and Levinthal 1990); “Not Invented Here” (Ham 2005); and credibility of information (Fitzgerald et al 2003), which are exacerbated for rural practitioners due to many issues such as the impact of geographical distance on knowledge transfer (Salk and Simonin 2011).

The research aim was to explore the social reality of innovating for H&SC practitioners delivering to rural communities including multiagency and uniprofessional groups. H&SC practitioners operate as street level bureaucrats (Lipsky 2010) and their engagement is vital to facilitate acceptance of new approaches to prevent failure with diffusion and adoption of innovation. An inductive mixed methods approach was employed sampling from practitioners engaged in short term funded Rural Health Local Innovation Projects. Data analysis is at an early stage and initial findings will be shared.

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