The role of the third sector in delivering social care

Dickinson H, Allen K, Alcock P, Macmillan R, Glasby J


Third sector providers have been important in the delivery of social care services for some time. Long before the advent of the ‘contract culture’ that started to emerge in the 1980s, third sector organisations have been involved in the delivery of what we would today define as social care. But this role is changing as the personalisation agenda takes hold and there is a push for closer integration between health and social care services within a context of constrained financial resources. Although a number of researchers have written on the subject of social care delivery by third sector agencies, there is no single account of the state of knowledge in the area or a clear account of the research agenda for the future.

This review was designed to address this and is organised around the following objectives:

  • to review the significant contributions to the academic policy and practice literatures in order that we might establish the existing state of knowledge in terms of the third sector in delivering social care in England;
  • to conduct semi-structured interviews with a number of key contacts to verify challenges identified from literature and assist in horizon scanning;
  • to identify the research agenda, including an indication of the main questions to be studied and the types of studies that might be needed to address them.

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