Practice development: collaborative working in social care


Improvement focus


Collaborative organisations need to share information and ideas, and agree methodology. Returning to their own sites, they can implement this and bring case study material (such as the example below) back for discussion.

Team members are frustrated with providing service-led responses to identified needs (e.g. day centre placements for people who are isolated and community meals for those unable to cook for themselves). People using the services have very low expectations and are not encouraged to focus on what they would actually like in response to their needs assessment. The team agrees to develop outcomes-focused assessment and care planning. Assessing officers agree to identify and record the responses that people want rather than offering standard services. Managers agree to consider more flexible responses to need at the panel.

Case study

Mr and Mrs Evans are an elderly couple. Mrs Evans had a fall recently and has restricted mobility. Consequently, Mr Evans has become the main carer and, having never cooked before, he is now trying to cope with shopping and cooking for himself and his wife. Mrs Evan’s assessment identified that she and her husband are not eating well and that they may be at risk of malnutrition.

Rather than provide the standard service response of community meals, the social worker asked the couple what they would like to do. The couple said that they would like to spend some quality time together at meal times rather than being stressed by Mr Evan’s difficulties with cooking for both of them. The following arrangements were made:

  • the provision of transport through dial-a-ride twice a week so that the couple could be enabled to eat lunch out in a local café, pub or restaurant of their choice
  • support with shopping and cooking for Mr Evans
  • once a week the couple call the local takeaway and have a ‘home delivery’ of their favourite Chinese food.


  • There is a reduction in the daily stress for Mr Evans of shopping and cooking.
  • Mr and Mrs Evans both enjoy their food and each other’s company.
  • There is a reduction of the risk of malnutrition.
  • There is a small increase in funding, which is required to support Mr Evans with shopping and cooking.

Identifying participants

Each site needs to identify:

Level of involvement

Developing a programme schedule

It is important to have a schedule that identifies timescales for the work that has been agreed by all coordinators, advisors, team managers, practitioners and senior managers across all participating organisations/teams.

Example programme schedule:

During the project:

After the project:

Next in this section: Data collection