Using evidence in social services and social care in Wales
Key findings from engagement with providers
Published in April 2022
One of the five areas of focus in Social Care Wales’ Social care research and development strategy 2018-23 relates to communicating and using research. Among other things, this includes improving and enhancing the research-mindedness among local authorities and social care providers, ensuring that the workforce is both able and motivated to engage with research and make use of it.
Social Care Wales has commissioned SCIE to explore current attitudes and behaviours in relation to research and evidence among the social care workforce in Wales. This work supports the plan for achieving the research strategy’s objectives.
The first phase of this research explored how frontline staff, managers working in social services and social care and people working in policy or research in Wales understand and use ‘evidence’. Our definition of evidence includes, among other things, academic research, the voices of people who use care and support and carers, practitioner knowledge, policy knowledge and organisational knowledge. The majority of data was collected through in-person, semi-structured focus groups between January and March 2020, with some further work into September 2020.
In the second phase of the research, the focus moved to provider organisations, including independent and third sector providers as well as local authority providers. This took place in late 2020 and consisted of interviews with key informants from the provider sector. This enabled a better understanding of the needs and vision relating to evidence use in the provider sector, to enable us to scope a further phase.
SCIE undertook a brief evidence scoping review and shared the findings with Social Care Wales in May 2021. The review found that:
- the literature highlighted the number of different roles within the social care workforce, even within independent and third sector providers. Moreover, it was clear that the information and evidence needs of people in different types of roles is likely to be quite different.
- there is a need to tailor the research to broad categories of the workforce within care providers including: care workers, personal assistants, activities coordinators, managers, supervisors, specialists and administration.
- there is some evidence about the use of information/evidence from people in managerial positions in the provider sector. However, there is very little evidence relating to frontline staff working in care providers - care workers, personal assistants, activities coordinators etc, especially within Wales.
Based on this review, an agreed approach to this phase was developed, aiming to:
understand the perspective of provider organisations in relation to ‘evidence’, for those in the following job roles:
- Registered Managers (RMs)
- Activities Coordinators
- Responsible Individuals (RIs)
- Frontline staff
- test potential types of evidence, drawing out if staff can relate to the types of evidence, what evidence is useful, and the circumstances and situations in which they use evidence.
- identify any challenges and barriers relating to accessing information and evidence and highlight any emerging improvements or solutions for future research support.
The previous phases of research had already identified a number of barriers associated with accessing evidence and demonstrated that participants could often struggle to understand what exactly constituted ‘evidence’ and therefore how this related to their job roles. For these reasons we decided that an appreciate enquiry approach would be more productive - with a focus on working with participants to identify and build on what is already working and what they already know, rather than starting from a place of barriers and challenges. The fieldwork consisted of a combination of workshops and interviews across the four job roles identified above. A detailed Methodology section can be found in Appendix 1.
The next section discusses the findings from the research and is organised by job role. For each job role we broadly identify:
- situations and circumstances when evidence and information is used
- success to and sources of evidence and information
- improving access to evidence and information
- proposals for research support and solutions
- types of evidence used frequently, situationally or infrequently
Throughout the report we draw on anonymised quotes from participants to further illustrate and bring to life the key findings.