Introducing Policy into Practice (PIP)

Policy into Practice began life as a Department of Health funded project led by Advocacy in Action, Surrey. The aim was to produce a template policy manual that could be used by new or existing advocacy schemes. Advocacy in Action quickly realised that such a manual could have national significance so sought out Older People’s Advocacy Alliance (OPAAL) as a national partner.

Early on, the project steering group was set up made up of professionals from within the advocacy sector with knowledge, understanding and interest in policy work and whose organisations had policy resources they were prepared to share.

Information was issued to OPAAL members and other advocacy networks, seeking Expressions of Interest. The selection of the project group then took place with 6 chosen. Of the 6, some were large organisations and some were small. Some were from rural areas and some from urban whilst one had an advocacy service as part of a larger offering for older people. The 6 project group members were: AgeUK Leicestershire & Rutland, Vocal Advocacy (Devon), Sefton Pensioners’ Advocacy Centre, Help and Care (Bournemouth), Doncaster Advocacy and Advocacy in Action (Surrey). The PIP project was managed throughout by OPAAL’s Chief Executive Kath Parson and supported by its National Development Officer, Marie McWilliams.

Manual development

The first thing that the project group had to decide was the process for producing policies for the manual. Initially a policy bank of 108 policies was gathered. These were existing policies sourced from the project and steering groups and from within the wider advocacy sector.
On close inspection, some had the same policy content but different names so policies were rationalised.
The project group then identified policy gaps and sought to develop new policies to fill those gaps (i.e. Commissioning & Tendering, Personalisation).
Each member of the project group took the lead on some policies and supported on others so a small core group worked on every policy. Where few examples of a particular policy existed others were sought from out with the sector, for example from the NHS and academic institutions and the internet.
Draft policies were produced between meetings where they were then discussed by the full project group and further amended. The whole process was very organic with the project group developing the best methods for policy production and the format for the final manual along the way.

At this stage an e-group was recruited; individuals interested in policy work and from the wider advocacy community. This e-group reviewed all policies and suggested potential amendments or additions. All policies were then sent to an editor to ensure agreed layout had been applied, that any procedure was necessary and concise and that any practice notes added clarity, depth and quality. Finally, every policy was sent to OPAAL’s lawyer for legal checking. So, from start to finish this was a long process.

Final manual

What we have ended up with is a manual containing 85 template policies; includes some brand new topics (such as Commissioning & Tendering and Personalisation). For further details and to see the policies themselves go to the Policies page.

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