Research and information
Primary and secondary research to inform decision-making and improve care and health
Care and health providers, commissioners, policy-makers and researchers need reliable evidence to inform tough decisions and support service improvement, efficiency and better outcomes for people using services and their carers.
SCIE’s research consultancy service provides that evidence.
It was great to work with SCIE to better understand local authority decision-making on early intervention. Their excellent contacts and collaborative approach helped us to appreciate what helps and hinders long-term planning as well as to generate practical recommendations for the way ahead.Kate Mulley, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Action for Children
You can commission SCIE to deliver:
- small and large-scale research studies to explore the implementation of innovative practice in care and health. For example, we can research implementation of major policy initiatives such as the Care Act, integration of health and social care and the dementia strategy
- primary and secondary research, including surveys, interviews and desk research. Primary research is used when we need to collect new information and data. For instance, we may use surveys and/or interviews to evaluate a particular programme. Secondary research relies on using information and data that has already been collected, but that is relevant to a piece of work we are doing. For instance, we use demographic data to help profile local contexts, when conducting programme evaluations. Such data would include demographic data and other survey and management information sources and analysis
- systematic literature reviews looking at multiple sources including published and grey literature on specific topics. This approach involves a transparent, rigorous and replicable search of the evidence to answer a specific research question. It can also include a formal assessment of evidence quality
- rapid reviews to consider key sources of evidence in a limited time frame. This approach is often useful when reviewing emerging issues
- scoping studies to rapidly gather literature on a particular topic. This can form the first stage in a systematic literature review of research study – or we can provide you with the map of relevant sources.
- information management
- advice on research plans, for example, to help local care and health providers and commissioners to agree and develop a joint approach to research
- translation of research findings into practical implementation tools and resources (see our Digital services offer)
- dissemination of research findings across the care and health sectors (see our Communications support offer).
Our approach to research
Our in-house experts and associates conduct research, evaluation and information gathering on a consultancy basis. Our dedicated team of research analysts and information specialists have both subject matter and methodological expertise.
We pioneered a robust approach to social care research, using multiple sources, including the direct experiences of people who use and deliver services. And we have over 14 years’ experience in delivering and disseminating reliable, independent research findings.
We also work in partnership with other research agencies to complement our skills, knowledge and capacity.
We provide research services to a wide range of clients including local authorities, care providers, national agencies, government departments, foundation trusts, research agencies and universities. Some of our research clients are outlined below.
Action for Children – Early intervention: decision-making in local authority children’s services Open
Building on the findings of an earlier study which reviewed the changing political landscape of children’s services, Action for Children commissioned the SCIE to design and develop a research project to understand how local authorities plan early intervention services that can improve the outcomes for children and families in the long-term. Specifically, the study aimed to:
- understand how local authorities respond to changing policy drivers
- identify, share and build ownership of possible solutions
- make an informed contribution to discussions about the ‘localism’ agenda.
We conducted a literature review, to inform (and complement) 30 telephone interviews with senior officers and members in local authorities. We then held five regional stakeholder events (attended by 49 subject matter experts) to share, and build on early findings) and conducted follow-up, in-depth case study work with six authorities.
Findings were triangulated and synthesised into a detailed report, published by Action for Children and available on the SCIE website, which describes:
- what drives local authority decision-making at the local and national level
- the extent to which authorities take a long-term view when commissioning children’s services
- the factors that help and hinder long-term planning; and,
- the characteristics of authorities making progress.
The work was high-profile and was presented at an Action for Children Breakfast Briefing (April 2013) and a Capita conference on Commissioning Children’s Services (October 2013).
We instinctively know that tackling problems before families reach crisis point is better for children and can save public money. Yet at times of change when budgets are squeezed long-term planning can get lost. It was great to work with SCIE to better understand local authority decision making on early intervention. Their excellent contacts and collaborative approach helped us to appreciate what helps and hinders long-term planning as well as to generate practical recommendations for the way ahead.Kate Mulley, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Action for Children
Read the Action for Children research report.
Department for Education Innovation Fund – Serious Case Reviews: Learning into Practice Project Open
In partnership with the NSPCC, this programme aims to improve the quality of serious case reviews (SCRs) and how learning from the reviews is used to improvement safeguarding children practice.
Activities include the identification of trends emerging from SCRs and creation of briefings and support materials, bringing multi - agency staff together to design and implement effective new practices at a local level.
SCIE is leading on research and knowledge transfer including collating and synthesising SCRs, internal evaluation and supervision of SCR lead reviewers.
Friends of the Elderly (FotE) – Care Homes as community hubs Open
SCIE, with support from Think Local Act Personal (TLAP), are working with Friends of the Elderly to carry out exploratory research into the potential for its care homes -and other forms of provision - to be transformed into community hubs that build on local community resources and assets.
The project involves doing an asset-based mapping exercise in a care home based in Surrey. This will be carried out with residents, relatives and local commissioners and service providers to explore the potential for the charity to develop a wider community offer. We are also conducting a review of literature and the work which will help inform the long-term strategic plans of Friends of the Elderly.
As people's needs and communities change, so must services for older people. There is huge potential for Care Homes to become wider resources for the community opening their doors to classes, services clubs and volunteers, benefitting residents and people in the community alike. We are excited to be working with SCIE, our second project together, on this themed approach.Steve Allen, Chief Executive, Friends of the Elderly
JPMorgan Chase Foundation – research study into workforce readiness, recruitment and progression in the social care sector (March – November 2016) Open
The social care workforce is predicted to grow enormously over the coming years, by up to half a million by 2025. However, the sector faces significant challenges in attracting and keeping skilled staff: Turnover rates are reported at 20 per cent; opportunities for career progression can be limited; some studies suggest that some staff are even paid less than the minimum wage.
SCIE has been commissioned by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to undertake a research study into workforce readiness, recruitment and progression in the social care sector. Working closely with our colleagues Skills for Care, the study will examine workforce readiness and progression both nationally and more specifically in East London looking at current and future trends and what works in increasing workforce readiness, recruitment of appropriately skilled staff and developing high quality career pathways in social care. We hope to provide practical recommendations on how funders and employers can invest in a demand-led system in East London which promotes access into social care employment and good career progression.
Every week we hear about the challenges and difficulties that social care organisations face in finding and progressing staff. But we do not know enough about how some organisations are overcoming these challenges with innovative thinking and progressive leadership. There is so much for the sector to learn from these organisations which is why I am delighted that JPMorgan Chase Foundation is supporting us to study how organisations can prepare people from east London for their first job, and then career progression in social care. An expert advisory group, which I chair, will help consider the national implications.SCIE Chair, Lord Michael Bichard
As part of this project we are very keen to hear about both local (East London) and national practice examples that exemplify innovative or good practice in recruitment and encouraging and enabling career progression in the social care sector. We will follow up a small number of the most interesting examples and conduct an in-depth case study to explore what can be learnt and how the approach might be scaled up and strengthened.
If you have a good example to share please contact firstname.lastname@example.org providing your name, email address, telephone number, a description of the practice example and what it has achieved.
NHS Digital - research study about how frontline social workers can be supported through use of information and technology (August 2016 – March 2017) Open
NHS Digital (formerly the Health and Social Care Information Centre) has commissioned SCIE in partnership with market research agency, GfK, to gather insights into how the social work role can be supported, now and in the future, through the use of information and technology.
Technological shifts have had far-reaching effects in recent years; however care and support systems have remained relatively immune to these changes. In 2014 the Department of Health made it clear that whilst human interactions would always be the foundation of good quality care, these could be “… better informed, more efficient and better organised if supported by data and technology services.” Despite recognition that technology can be a key enabler of good care, evidence on its use in frontline social work is relatively scarce.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that many social workers are keen to embrace the opportunities afforded by mobile technology and the ability to access and edit records on the move is seen as a positive that will lead to increased efficiency and productivity. Many also see these technologies as a new means of engaging with service users. However, support for these new tools is not universal and concerns surrounding governance, information-sharing and confidentiality issues have been raised by some commentators.
SCIE and GfK are exploring how social workers are currently using IT in their role, and what could be done better, to bridge the gap between current availability and their requirements. The work will then feed into the development of existing and future products. Further to this the research process also seeks to raise NHS Digital’s profile with the sector, with a role in leading innovation and new thinking around the use of technology in social care settings.
NHS Digital, supported by SCIE, will present the interim findings from this research during a session at the National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCASC) 2016. This will include a discussion session facilitated by the Chief Social Worker for Adults, Lyn Romeo.
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Australia) – research on identify child sexual abuse Open
Partner: London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia contracted SCIE and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) to consider how child sexual abuse can be better identified and reported.
This research forms part of The Royal Commission’s overall research programme to support its work and recommendations on how institutions with responsibility for children in Australia have managed and responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.
SCIE and the LSE took a systems-approach to the research – with a focus on understanding why errors occur, rather than attributing failure simply to individual error. We applied this approach to identify individual and organisation factors that contributed to the failure to protect children in a timely and effective way.
Our methodology involved analysing the two published case studies available when our work began and drawing on research into human errors of reasoning and on how organisational factors can contribute to human error. We did not duplicate the work of the hearings of the Royal Commission, but used their findings to inform our analysis of the data from another theoretical approach to see whether drawing on lessons from other sectors can further illuminate systemic factors that contribute to failure in the care of children.
The resulting report was written by Dr Sheila Fish – SCIE’s Head of Learning Together and Senior Research Analyst, and Professor Eileen Munro - Professor of Social Policy, Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Sciences. Professor Munro led the UK’s review of child protection
Learning Together - SCIE’s systems-approach to safeguarding reviews is one of the most developed in the world.
- Hear no evil, see no evil: Understanding failure to identify and report child sexual abuse in institutional contexts (SCIE/LSE report to The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse)
- SCIE Learning Together
Health Foundation – research on constructive conversations Open
We are researching the factors that create constructive conversations between local health and care services and the communities they serve to transform services. Delivered in partnership with PPL and Institute for Government, the project includes an analysis of literature and work with local areas planning changes.
Engaging patents and the public is central to good decision-making at both a local and national level, but is not always done as well as it needs to be. This work will help provide guidance on effective and innovative ways to conduct conversations with patients, service users, carers and the public on controversial issues.Tim Gardner – Acting Director of Policy, the Health Foundation
London Borough of Croydon. Review of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Service for 0-25 year olds Open
SCIE and PPL were commissioned by the London Borough of Croydon to undertake a review of 0-25 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) service. In 2016, Croydon established the All Age Disability Service, designed in partnership with residents and providers, and aligns with local strategy. This creates clear pathways from birth to 64 for children with SEND, adults with disabilities and their families. Personalisation and independence are at the heart of the service. The purpose of the review was to:
- establish a ‘baseline’ of current practice, opportunities and challenges in relation to the 0-25 SEND service
- identify – based on examples of good practice elsewhere - practical opportunities for service improvement and market development that will improve outcomes in a cost-effective way.
The project involved a:
- Review local documents: A comprehensive review to establish a clear picture of the local offering, strategic needs and future plans for the 0-25 service in Croydon
- Data collection and analysis: Demand, activity and spend data was analysed to establish a quantitative baseline
- Stakeholder interviews: 26 interviews were conducted with a range of stakeholders, including parents. The aim of was to understand what people feel works well and where there are opportunities for improvement
- Interviews with parents of disabled children: SCIE ran a focus group with the parents forum to elicit their views on what was working well and less well
- Best practice review: Rapid, high-level analysis of good and promising practice in response to thematic areas identified by Croydon stakeholders. External stakeholders were interviewed to explore ‘what good looks like’ and identify any examples of good/promising practice
- Workshop with stakeholders: The findings from the stakeholder interviews were analysed and shared with managers and front line staff, which provided an opportunity to contribute to the development of recommendations.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – NICE Collaborating Centre for Social Care Open
The NICE Collaborating Centre for Social Care is a consortium led by SCIE with: Research in Practice; Research in Practice for Adults; Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre); and Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU). The Centre was commissioned by NICE and is based at SCIE. It develops NICE social care guidance with people who use care, their families and friends, care providers and commissioners.
As part of our research role within the Centre, we conduct complex systematic reviews which form the basis of NICE guidance.
We complement our in-house expertise through partnerships with leading experts in social care policy, practice, research and economics including:
- Alzheimer’s Society
- Birmingham University
- EPPI-Centre at the Institute of Education
- London School of Economics
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
- NIHR School for Social Care Research
- NHS Institute
- Research in Practice
- Research in Practice for Adults