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Research study outcomes

Evaluation Report - Social Care workforce research capacity in the South West
The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) extended support into health and social care research taking place in non-NHS settings. This change was introduced from 1st January 2018, meaning that the CRN can support research conducted outside of NHS settings such as in care homes, hospices, schools and other community settings.

This pilot project was funded by the NIHR CRN and the Department of Health and Social Care to increase and develop the capacity and understanding of research in social care and among Social Workers. This particular work package was intended to specifically concentrate on what is needed to develop the social care workforce to both work as researchers and within the research field.

The project ran for 6 months from September 2019 to March 2020. Secondments were offered to Social Workers in Devon Partnership NHS Trust (DPT) via an advertisement placed in the staff news bulletin of DPTs intranet.

The aim of the project was to evaluate the experiences of social care staff working in a research setting and draw themes and lessons from the participants and their managers to share with the wider social care workforce.

As part of the evaluation of this project the Social Workers who took part in the project have been interviewed and filmed. Interviews with the senior manager of the participating social care workers has also taken place. All interviews were thematically analysed and themes have been drawn from these interviews to inform the main findings of the project.

Main Findings:

  1. The Social Workers involved in this pilot were equipped with the skills to support research delivery and are a workforce that should be encouraged to be involved in research delivery bringing a high level of expertise that can add value.
  2. Social workers valued and enjoyed the research experience and their skills were appreciated by the research team. They found research interesting and were quick to learn.
  3. Social workers do not have a lot of exposure to research in practice. They found that language used within research was sometimes difficult to understand and very clinically focused.
  4. The pathway into research is not clear to social workers.
  5. Longer term funding opportunities for this workforce are required to build on the opportunities and to ensure engagement
  6. Greater promotion of the role of this workforce in research and the impact of specific projects may help with longer term engagement work.

Please read the full evaluation of the project here.

Please watch the film below: