Over the course of history, innovation and creativity have proven to be vital for achieving success. From the first car to the airplane, the radio, the Internet, and so on, all these inventions changed and influenced people’s life for the better. While the progress and innovation made in social services are not mentioned in the history books, its impact is equally as important.
Social services are an ever-changing landscape. Various factors, from the government policies and economy to demographics affect the work of agencies. Leaders understand that technologies, processes, and culture play vital roles in delivering high-quality services, and they try to comply.
Today, new trends fuel social services, helping them to deliver the best outcomes while preparing for tomorrow. But, agencies need to identify them first. Not always visible, they can emerge all at once, taking the social service world by storm.
So, what are the moving forces that are causing social services to change? And how can agencies take advantage of them to deliver better services for the people they serve?
According to a recent report, the number of people 65 or older will grow by 135% by 2015. As Baby Boomers are getting older, social services are looking for new ways to deliver care to them. Meanwhile, the government still struggles to find a solution for the oncoming challenge facing social services and the health care system.
In response to this trend, agencies providing social care to elder patients will need to expand the types of services they offer. Baby Boomers will need social services to grow and change with them, as they move through different stages of needs. As people continue to live longer, organizations need to adapt and improve their services. They need better funding plans so that they aren’t struggling to make the budget each year.
The Need for Inventive Financing Models
The aging population will create the need for more creative financing model. One trend that is supposed to change social services is investing in social outcomes. Pay-for-results contracts, a funding mechanism that pays social service organizations when results are met, are becoming predominant. The idea behind this concept is to encourage outside investments and minimize the need for expensive remediation paid from the taxpayers’ pocket.
By monetizing social outcomes, agencies will be more focused on delivering high-quality services and changing their system.
Shifting Donor Base
Nowadays, most organizations rely on donations. But, the aging population threatens social services’ financial capital. And, with government funding also problematic, organizations need to find new ways to get funding.
The greatest challenge for social services in the upcoming years will be to attract a younger donor base and replace the aging one. This trend is forcing agencies to turn to innovative marketing strategies to tell their stories better and appeal to a younger audience.
This new challenge raises a new set of questions for social services. Is the current generation less interested in social problems? Do they make less money than their parents? Or, people usually start making donations at a certain age? Regardless of the answers, one thing is clear: this demographic trend is driving major change in social services.
Learn from Other Services
While social services are very much different from sectors such as retail, insurance, or telecommunication, it doesn’t mean that they can’t learn from their practices. Organizations should consider the example of businesses that use targeted promotions, multi-channel points, and consumer segmentation to meet their audience’s expectations. When adapted to social services, these practices could mean quicker access to services, understanding patients’ needs, and the ability to communicate with them through various channels.
Health and Social Services Integration
It’s almost impossible to serve individuals as a whole without health and social services integration. There have been numerous discussions around the integration of these two areas in recent years, signaling that a new trend is about to emerge. The need for change is more than obvious. The system for paying and delivering healthcare changed after the Affordable Care Act (ACA,) making it clear that it’s about time to focus on tracking the right type of outcomes. These new mechanisms highlighted how the overall population health is a clear indicator of the efficiency of social service programs, revealing the need for integration.
As technology and innovation change the face of the world, social services are expected to be ahead of the curve. They need to stay ahead of current trends, prepare for social changes and be capable of adjusting their programs to be able to serve everyone.