Practice development: collaborative working in social care

SCIE Guide 34

Published: August 2010

Review date: August 2013

About this guide

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) aims to identify and spread knowledge about good practice to the large and diverse social care workforce and support the delivery of transformed, personalised social care services. We aim to reach and influence practitioners, managers and the sector leadership who have responsibility for service delivery in adults’ and children’s services.

SCIE has identified collaborative methodology as one of many ways of implementing change based on evidence from research and practice. The method presented here has been adapted for social care from the NHS model and represents a simple approach to change management. SCIE has used it to test whether its knowledge reviews and practice guides result in improved practice.

The methodology aims to improve social care services by:

Being clear about social work practice (what we do) and decision making (why we do it) can only strengthen the voice of social work, empowering and valuing the profession. In this regard, collaborative methodology is considered a useful and adaptable tool for learning organisations. The basic methodology can be used routinely within and across teams to improve any chosen aspect of practice.

This guide hopes to support those organisations using it to release the creativity and expertise of their staff. When daily practice is the context for knowledge it generates workable ideas and robust management information. It provides a conduit for research perspectives that are otherwise hard to obtain, bringing research and ‘the real world’ of service planning and delivery together.

Who is the guide for?

This guide can be used in statutory and independent sectors by social care workers, social workers and their managers to improve the use of knowledge, both research and practice-based, in service development.

The model requires the participation of individuals or teams as part of an organisational approach to change. Committed, skilled coordinators with a clear understanding of the methodology need to be identified by each participating team or organisation at the outset. It has been suggested that, in the absence of a member of staff in a practice development role, a small strategic panel could be established to steer the project and delegate the responsibilities of the coordinator. Senior managers must be committed to acting on the findings and the option of a panel could be very useful in securing their commitment.

SCIE resources that may support and inform your work in this area