Social innovation is about finding new solutions to challenges. For social services this means developing new policies and practices which promote efficiency and quality. Innovation in social services is closely intertwined with evidence-based practice for identifying effective approaches, in addition to harnessing technology for modernising service delivery and management.


Our work

We are examining with our members the opportunities and challenges that technology offers for social services. We will do this between 2019-2021 through the framework of a working group on social services digitalisation and technology. The working group will explore different technological solutions in social services, from digitalising case-management documentation to robotic arms for people with mobility impairments, whilst discussing issues around implementation, such as how to equip staff and users with the skills to utilise new technologies.

We have also placed a significant amount of attention on evidence-based practice. We have been working with our members since 2012 to explore how they understand evidence-based practice and outlining methods that social services can follow for promoting it. This work culminated in our publication ‘Evidence-based social services: Toolkit for planning & evaluating social services’.


Why/importance of our work

The importance of social innovation is being increasingly recognised at international level. The European Commission’s 2013 Social Investment Package (SIP) outlined the need to modernise social welfare systems, and that social policies and services should be tested to identify the most effective.

Meanwhile at local level, directors of social services want to see evidence that their investments are effective and efficient, especially when they face pressures of budgetary constraint and increasing demand for services.

We bring our members together to share and discuss new trends in social innovation, providing practical guidance for social services to exploit the potential of new technology and develop evidence-based practice. By promoting the capacity of social services at local level to innovate, we contribute to the European level objectives set out in the SIP from the bottom-up.


ESN Resources


External Resources


Our additional work on Evidence and innovation.