I recently spent a few hours with practitioners who are developing and honing their research skills in social care.
These practitioners from across Wales are working with citizens, and colleagues from the health boards and the voluntary sector, as they develop and hone their skills, and they are being supported by research experts and the Wales School for Social Care Research (WSSCR).
The school is funded by Welsh Government (Health and Care Research Wales), led by Professor Fiona Verity and hosted by Swansea University.
One of its main aims is to increase research capacity, and bridge the gap between academic research and social care services in Wales.
To support that aim, the school awarded grants to help build this research capacity (maximum £10,000) to nine partnerships across Wales in 2018-19 for a 12-month period.
The projects were led by a variety of organisations providing social care across Wales, such as local authorities and charities, and they were supported in their endeavours by experienced researchers in their field.
Social Care Wales works closely with the school as part of our responsibility to influence research priorities.
I was delighted to join the teams to share the learning that is emerging from this grant-funded research, which aims to increase our knowledge of what works well and why.
The research grants’ themes included:
- Considering the impact of involving third sector support in mental health services to prevent people being readmitted to hospital
- Improving accessibility and communication support for deaf parents and their children, which is culturally sensitive and supports improved parenting skills
- Exploring the needs of parents with mental health issues and children who are looked after to inform how local authority services are designed in the future
- Developing and testing out new methods to help ensure better futures for families
- Developing further knowledge and evidence about the impact of social prescribing to help identify research priorities, challenges and possible solutions in this area
- Identifying and developing local environments with older residents that are ‘age friendly’ (World Health Organisation concept)
- Developing a network for carers in Wales to access short breaks to support their health and well-being
- Testing out new practices and methods that involve many different organisations to better support young parents, many of whom experience disadvantage
- Supporting adults with a range of disabilities, including autism, to become volunteers as an alternative to support within traditional day services.
It was great to see how the grants had been used by busy practitioners, who are working at the frontline supporting vulnerable children and adults, to increase their knowledge and participation in research.
Many of the practitioners recognised the need for a research-minded approach to practice, to make sure we are all working towards continuous improvement.
If you want to know more, take a look at the school’s website at www.walessscr.org/en/. And if you have a research idea or a research topic you wish to explore, please get in touch with the school at email@example.com.