Shared Care Scotland's Promoting Variety initiative aims to give unpaid carers and those they care for access to a wider range of short break options.  

The programme is being delivered by Shared Care Scotland in partnership with Healthcare Improvement Scotland and with support from The Lasting Difference. The work is funded by the Scottish Government.


Promoting Variety is anchored by the principles of co-production and co-design and the programme aims to find solutions for short breaks that are created in partnership with carers, enabling them to access breaks in ways that are both meaningful and beneficial to them. 


Through our different Promoting Variety practice resources and learning exchanges, we want to collaborate with commissioning organisations to support their efforts to promote and diversify the range of short break options available in their respective areas.  


The foundation of our efforts stems from our original Promoting Variety guide on short break market facilitation, first released in 2020 and revised in 2021.


This guide comprehensively outlines the process of developing a sustainable marketplace of short breaks provision. Essentially, it offers a blueprint for moving from the present state to an improved future of short break opportunities, guided by reliable data, collaborative efforts, and a focus on desired outcomes. 

On this page, you'll find our comprehensive collection of Promoting Variety resources that have been developed over the course of the initiative. Additionally, we have included other tools and resources that can support the three pivotal stages of market shaping: 

  1. Intelligence: Evaluating current offerings, researching demand, and collecting evidence.
  2. Ideas: Exploring alternatives, formulating concepts, constructing the model, and creating prototypes.
  3. Implementation: Trialling the model, accumulating evidence, and assessing the outcomes. 

Promoting Variety resources

The Promoting Variety guide serves as a comprehensive manual for market shaping in the field of short breaks and respite care. It aims to equip commissioners, providers, and other stakeholders with practical tools and insights for diversifying and enhancing the range of short break options available. By fostering innovation and collaboration, the guide seeks to meet the varied needs of unpaid carers and those they care for, by supporting the development of local, sustainable ‘marketplaces’ of short break opportunities. 

Promoting variety guide


This report investigates key areas concerning the commissioning of short breaks and respite care within local Carer Strategies. The report is divided into two parts: the first examines Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) documents to assess intentional market shaping and the presence of Short Break Strategies; the second part focuses on input from focus groups to identify best practices and gaps. Through scrutinising policy documents and gathering insights from the focus groups, the report aims to contribute to our understanding of how market shaping can work in practice. 

Implementing variety report

This learning report offers insights and a detailed evaluation of a year-long programme with seven selected local partnerships to do some real-world testing of the three-stage market facilitation process which was foundational to our ‘Promoting Variety’ framework: intelligence collection, idea innovation, and implementation. The report provides insights into the factors which can help and challenge the development of more collaborative short breaks. 

Improving variety report