Findings from a scoping review of knowledge and research evidence

This resource presents findings from a scoping review of knowledge and research evidence relating to carers and carers lives and issues. These findings should inform future research, policy development and improve practice in delivering carer support.


The NIHR School for Social Care Research commissioned the Open University to undertake a scoping review of current knowledge and research evidence about carers’ lives and caring issues. It deliberately included a broad range of material. As part of this project SCIE was commissioned to develop online resources to support the review and ensure it was made accessible, and useful, to academics, policy makers, commissioners, practitioners and carers themselves.

Review background

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The review had two complementary purposes:

This resource forms part of SCIE’s suite of resources for commissioners, carers and practitioners around the implementation of the Care Act in relation to carers.

The project was led by Dr Mary Larkin, Senior Lecturer in Health and Social Care at the Open University and Dr Alisoun Milne, Professor of Social Gerontology and Social Work at the University of Kent. The work was supported by a project advisory group which included: carers, people who use services, social work practitioners, a GP, Third Sector carers agencies, SCIE and Department of Health representatives.

The scoping review was conducted by Melanie Henwood Associates and was completed in autumn 2017. A copy of the full report has been indexed on Social Care Online and a summary version is published on NIHR School for Social Care Research website.

A related resource offered by the Open University is a regularly updated knowledge network platform indexing all the 3000+ research records referenced in the review: Carer Research and Knowledge Exchange Network (CAREN)

Key messages

  • although caring involves all ages and population groups, most care is provided for older people typically by an adult child or partner
  • some people have multiple caring responsibilities and increasingly people are likely to experience one or more periods of caring in their lifetime.

Review highlights

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Find out more about this knowledge review

Information about the review can be accessed from the video and full and summary reports that have been produced.

Three topics from the review are of particular relevance to commissioners, care workers, social workers, carers organisation, carers’ support worker, carers, people who use services and other stakeholders. These topics are Caring relationships, Impact of caring and Supporting carers. In order to enhance the value and utility of this resource, summaries of these topics, together with additional resources to support decision-making, can be accessed using the following links: