One of my long standing priorities since taking up my post as Chief Social Worker for Adults at the Department of Health has been to encourage the development and use of research and evidence in improving social work and professional practice.
So I am delighted that a major survey has just launched on the James Lind Alliance website to find out which research areas ought to be prioritised to further improve social work in England.
The survey will ask adults and those approaching adulthood who have been in contact with social workers in England, social workers themselves, and other professionals who work alongside them, to talk about their experiences. Critically, it also seeks to capture their thoughts on what the priorities should be for future social work research.
In their 2016 report, ‘Social Work: the state we’re in’, the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College recommended that social care research priorities should be identified by following the tried-and-tested methods used by the James Lind Alliance (JLA).
Since publication of my annual report ‘Being the Bridge’, the JLA and I have worked together with a focus on improving the evidence base for social work, informing frontline practice, and encouraging research capability across the profession.
I want to understand more about what works best when social workers work with adults and their families. Research evidence can help with this, but first we need to know what is important to people on the ground.
We are at our best when our research follows the workforce’s nose! That is why this survey is vital.
It will ensure that future research answers the questions that are important to social workers themselves and anyone who has been in contact with them. If future research is to make a real difference to improve the quality of care and support that people receive, it is essential.
The survey will be open until January 2018. We want to hear the views of everyone affected by adult social work. The results of the Priority Setting Partnership will be released later in 2018.
And if you plan to attend this year’s National Children and Adult Services Conference (NCAS) in Bournemouth (11-13 October, Bournemouth International Conference Centre), why not visit me at the DH exhibition stand to find out more?