Practice development: collaborative working in social care

Why use collaborative methodology?

This is just good social work practice and a way of embedding evidence-based changes.

(Quote from participant)


Collaborative methodology is valuable in a number of ways, at different organisational levels.


  • Develop a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Listen to, value and empower the workforce.
  • Encourage practitioners to focus on the evidence base for their practice.
  • Develop a clear focus on the organisation’s purpose and outcomes for people using the service.
  • Improve organisational structures and processes.
  • Improve the quality of service provision.

Senior managers

  • Improve the transparency of decision making.
  • Benefit from the knowledge and experience of front-line practitioners.
  • Focus on roles and responsibilities for ensuring that systems and structures are in place to support workers.
  • Establish a feedback loop.

Team managers

  • Motivate the workforce by empowering them to lead on change management.
  • Develop an environment that respects the time required for reflective practice.
  • Incorporate change management into day-to-day processes.
  • Develop a team approach to the identification of common barriers and solutions.
  • Improve levels of consistency in practice.
  • Facilitate a focus on a particular problem.
  • Reduce change into ‘bite-size’ pieces that seem more achievable.
  • Replace anecdotal evidence with concrete data.
  • Reveal areas of unwritten practice.
  • Validate people’s work and ideas.
  • Develop an evidence base on areas of service/resource deficit.


  • Develop reflective practice and a solution-focused approach.
  • Share concerns and experiences with others – do not struggle in isolation.
  • Share ideas and good practice.
  • Identify learning and development needs.
  • Contribute to continuous professional development required for registration.
  • Take a key role, not only in using evidence, but in creating it, thus producing management information.
  • Influence change at different levels within the organisation and with external partners – see and benefit from practitioner-led changes.

Service recipients

  • Increased levels of involvement.
  • Improvements to service delivery.

Challenges and opportunities