We’ve recently launched the Q Exchange funding pilot, which involves the Q community in deciding how £450,000 is to allocated to projects across the UK.
Got an idea and wondering whether it might fit? Looking for inspiration? In this blog, I’m going to share a few thoughts on the kind of projects we’re looking to support and what might make for a winning bid.
Q Exchange has been designed in a way that’s flexible to support different sorts of improvement work on a wide range of topics. Q Exchange starts with the principle that people working in improvement are best placed to make the final decision about what will be most helpful. Any funding programme needs structure, but we’re trying to limit the constraints on this experiment to find out what the community think is most worthy of funding.
What sorts of thing can the money be used for?
For this pilot, we’re particularly inviting proposals for work in the field of peer support, to build on the work of the first Q lab, but we also welcome ideas on any other topic.
You can bid for funding to implement a service improvement project, but you can also submit ideas to gather insight to enable improvement work or to evaluate and share work that’s underway or to build capability.
While there’s a limit to how far £30,000 will go, this doesn’t just need to be about small-scale projects – you could ask for money for an add-on to a larger programme or to support mature work that you’re trying to promote widely.
Sometimes specific examples help. So, here are a few – completely made up – ideas to illustrate the range of different things £30,000 could be used for.
1. How about a novel method for understanding patient and staff perspectives on a key aspect of improvement? The Q community have told us that they struggle with data and measurement, and we also know people are committed to understanding the patient perspective but struggle to make that a reality. So, I’m hoping there might be insight-focused bids – innovation doesn’t just need to be in service delivery.
2. In terms of service improvement, £30,000 might for example support collaboration between a GP practice in Wales that has done interesting work in peer support and a couple of other places locally or elsewhere in the UK that are looking to adapt and adopt it. As some of the work we’ve supported on scaling suggests, we should be doing more to support the next stage of testing once ideas have been successful in one place.
3. The health system is not going to achieve its goals through small scale projects alone. £30,000 isn’t going to enable you to reconfigure maternity services across a patch, or develop a new cross-sector approach to enabling people to live healthily in supported housing, but perhaps there are ways this funding could help make existing work more visible to others. We know people struggle to get funding for evaluation of service changes, or for work to share learning, given that it’s hard to justify supporting work if the benefit lies beyond the health economy. So, why not bid to better understand and share something that you think’s really important about programmes you’re involved in?
4. You could bid for help to encourage large scale uptake of interventions that have already proven their value. Have you got an effective way to build improvement capability for example? Could £30,000 enable you to make it available more widely? I’d be particularly excited to see something that supported groups who have had limited access to training – lower paid staff, those outside the hospital sector and citizens for example. I know many Q members have said they feel strongly about supporting this area too.
What makes for a good bid?
Whatever your idea – and from what I know of the Q community they will be rich, varied and certainly not constrained by what I suggest, there are few things to pay attention to.
At the shortlisting stage, we’ll be looking to make sure that any proposal is sufficiently well- thought through to have a reasonable chance of delivering results.
We’ll also want to see you’ve looked at the evidence base and show some awareness of other work underway in the area. Developing a project page earlier might mean that other Q members help you with identifying links.
We’ll be looking to check the scope of the work seems reasonable for the people and skills you’re lining up. We want to encourage ambition and collaboration, but it might be wise to resist the urge to take on too many partners. Think about what you can really support, otherwise you may put a strain on relationships with any new-found collaborators.
We hope that Q members will be commenting on projects online and will make the ultimate decision at the UK community event on 19 September. The projects I predict they will respond best to, will have a clear story about how the project has the potential to benefit people (either service users and / or staff) and how it’s been developed with them. And people respond to passion, so let yours show through.
I think successful projects will have found creative ways to make connections with the Q community. We’re looking particularly for projects that span sectors, geographies or other boundaries in line with the spirit of Q. It would be good to see you actively invite and show how your idea develops by getting feedback from other Q members. The best projects will plan to involve those that are interested in the work as it progresses and give proper thought to how the outputs might be made available to the community in creative ways.
Why not give it a go?
We’re not sure how many ideas we’ll get – first time round our new funding programmes sometimes see slightly fewer applications, so this pilot might be a good opportunity to give it a go. We hope that the process of developing your idea, with input from others in the community will be useful, wherever it leads. You can always put in an idea and see how it lands – you never know what it might inspire!