Social Care Workforce Research Unit

The Social Care Workforce Research Unit (SCWRU) is a multi-disciplinary national centre for original research into issues relating to the social care workforce. The Unit exists to develop research knowledge and to disseminate the findings to policymakers, service providers, employers and social care service user and carer groups.

Updated:
10 February 2016
Location:
National
Sectors:
Health, Care, Communication

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

The Social Care Workforce Research Unit (SCWRU) at King's College London is a multi-disciplinary national centre for original research into the experiences and challenges faced by the social care workforce, including the dementia workforce, in social care and health services. We have an inclusive attitude to 'social care' and routinely include third sector providers as well as statutory and private providers in our work, as they have a significant role in supporting people with dementia and carers living the in the community.

Our research studies have covered decision-making, personalisation, safe-guarding and the Mental Capacity Act. We have also undertaken research into the assessment and diagnosis of people with dementia and carers. Many of our studies have focused on people from black and minority ethnic groups, and we will continue to develop research with marginalized groups with dementia and the workforce that supports them. The views of people with dementia and carers are central to research we undertake in this area and we perceive them as experts in developing policy-and practice-relevant findings. We maintain person-centred research methods through recruiting and training sensitive researchers who are skilled in conducting interviews.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Most current challenges relate to the economic climate: for example, competition for research funds is likely to become still greater. We are also aware that there are constant, yet unpredictable changes facing health and social care providers and workforces with whom we engage in our research. Demands on staff are high as job and pay freezes are instituted. As such, participating in research may be less prioritised by staff. Our approach to conducting research with practitioners addresses these barriers by ensuring that any participation costs incurred are met, by telling them what participation will involve in advance, and by acknowledging this input. It is also our experience that by asking research questions are that interesting to staff, this encourages their participation as well as recruitment as lay participants. We provide research reports and other products to each organisation participating in our studies.

2. Actions

  • Homeless older people with dementia

    Our commitment to exploring and improving services for marginalised groups continues; for example, we are currently working on a research study (in partnership with other unviersities and a homelessness charity) exploring the service needs of homeless older people with dementia. We want to explore the pathways into care (if any) they have and support they receive for memory problems.

    Status:
    Implementation

    2015 - First Quarter Update

    Due to unforeseen circumstances amongst the research team and management of homelessness charities, as well as management changes at homeless hostels, our study has been delayed with data collection.

    We have been granted an 18 month extension, due to complete the study mid 2016. We will collect data over the summer, and analyse over autumn/winter 2015, and will report back on this study in next year's annual report.

    2012 - Second Quarter Update

    We are in the process of signing the relevant contracts.

    2012 - First Quarter Update

    No update reported.

  • Enabling people with dementia and carers to contribute their views

    For every project, we will continue to enable people with dementia and carers to contribute their views without necessarily attending meetings. This will take the form of emails with specific questions that they can respond to at their own time and convenience. We will explore other virtual methods to involve people with dementia. However, we will continue to meet support costs for people with dementia and carers who are able to come to meetings as part of our practice of reimbursement of expenses

    Status:
    Implementation

    2015 - First Quarter Update

    There is nothing to report as this is an ongoing exercise that we include in all of our research studies. We are currently putting together a proposal in dementia care (specifics have been deliberately withheld) and consulted our unit's Service User and Carer Advisory Group regarding the appropriateness, feasibility and value of our research questions. We have tweaked some of the wording of the questions according to their response. 

    2012 - Second Quarter Update

    Ongoing – nothing to report as yet.

    2012 - First Quarter Update

     No update reported.

  • Stigma and fear of dementia

    We will address the prevailing stigma and fear of dementia amongst the public in our research, through selection of research topics and question selection within individual studies, analysis, writing and dissemination activities in order that negative perceptions of dementia are not fostered by alarmist depictions of the condition.

    Status:
    Implementation

    2015 - First Quarter Update

    We remain incredibly committed to this endeavour. By researching social care in dementia, we are tackling a relatively under researched area of the care sector. We focus on relatively neglected people in these field, such as home care staff, and older homeless people, for example.

    We also disseminate our findings as widely as possible, in as many formats as necessary. We have a strong online presence, and disseminate research topics and findings via website announcements and a social media presence, in order that public perceptions of dementia are constantly challenged and evidence-based messages are widely publicized.

    2012 - Second Quarter Update

     Ongoing – nothing to report as yet.

    2012 - First Quarter Update

     No update reported.

  • Links with the Alzheimer's Society Reserach Network

    We will aim to inform policy by continuing to liaise with the Alzheimer’s Society in the development and delivery of its policy agenda. We will seek links with the Alzheimer’s Society’s Research Network (a group of 200 people with dementia, carers and former carers) if appropriate. This will enable us to scope out a wide a range of advice, as well as prevent us from ‘reinventing the wheel’, and wasting precious resources of time.

    Status:
    Implementation

    2015 - First Quarter Update

    We continue to work closely with Alzheimer's Society, as well as other dementia/Alzheimer's Disease associations and charities.

    We contributed to Alzheimer's Society very first Research in Practice event, to care home managers and staff, with a presentation on care home staff training.

    Staff from the unit have contributed to Public Health England's conference, presenting on Inequalities in Dementia, which was very well received.

    We have worked with Alzheimer's Disease International (along with World Health Organisation) to collect internationally relevant “Best Care Practices” in different countries. These have been collated into themes and are being written up in report form and fed back at government summits.

    2012 - Second Quarter Update

    Ongoing – nothing to report as yet.

    2012 - First Quarter Update

    No update reported.

  • Research with partners and providers in health and social care

    We will actively engage with partners and providers in health and social care in order that effective research is carried out in everyday contexts. Findings and implications may then be more easily transferable.

    Status:
    Implementation

    2015 - First Quarter Update

    This is an ongoing endeavour. We strive to do all of our research in parternship with health, social care and voluntary sector providers, in order that our research is immediately relevant to these sectors, as well as gets disseminated as widely as possible.

    Our current dementia research with older homeless people is parterning with a large homelessness charity and has engaged others to contribute their views and be involved as much as possible. We also hope to engage them to disseminate findings when these are ready.

    2012 - Second Quarter Update

    Ongoing – nothing to report as yet.

    2012 - First Quarter Update

    No update reported.

  • Advisory Group, engaging with people with dementia and their carers

    The SCWRU User and Carer Advisory Group currently includes one current carer of a family member with dementia and three former carers of a family member with dementia and three former carers.

    We remain committed to engaging with people with dementia and carers in designing, planning and executing our research projects. We asked our Advisory Group about the best way to engage sensitively with people with dementia and sustain their involvement without putting unnecessary pressure on them.

     Members of our Advisory Group gave us some valuable suggestions and discussed the importance of trust in research relationships with people with dementia and carers. As a consequence, three members of our group who already have links with dementia cafes and other support networks for people with dementia and carers have volunteered to act as go-betweens for us. These three members will, when the need arrices, be briefed on any queries we are grappling with, discuss it with their network,and report back what their network has advised.

    Status:
    Implementation

    2015 - First Quarter Update

    At recent meetings, we are encouraging members of the Advisory Group to share their views regarding what our next research questions should be.

    We are in the process of developing 3 research proposals in the area of dementia care, 2 of which have arisen through discussions with Advisory Group members. We will, of course, be engaging them in the design of the research questions and study.

    2012 - Second Quarter Update

    Ongoing – nothing to report as yet.

    2012 - First Quarter Update

    No update reported.

  • Dementia-aware and dementia-ready

    We will aim to produce training-relevant outputs, where feasible, from our research studies, to equip the health and social care workforce to be dementia-aware and dementia-ready. By publishing in the ‘trade’ press, we aim to disseminate findings of our research findings to those in everyday practice as far as possible.

    Status:
    Implementation

    2015 - First Quarter Update

    We run and chair the quarterly Margaret Butterworth Care Home Forum, showcasing current care home research and care. We maintain this free valuable resource and encourage as many care home managers and staff as able to come, and regularly have 40-60 attendees. 

    We contributed to 2 dementia-related modules for King's College London's nursing training fellowship programme, and will actively seek out other stuff training activities.

    We synthesized and published a review on Care Pathways in Dementia. The term pathway is an often-used but not always well-understood concept. This article is published open access (free) in Clinical Interventions in Aging.

    2012 - Second Quarter Update

    Ongoing – nothing to report as yet.

    2012 - First Quarter Update

    No update reported.

  • Social care systems cost-effective and equitable

    We will expand our team by developing a social care economics work stream to enable us to evaluate and investigate elements of social care systems that are cost-effective and equitable.

    Status:
    Implementation

    2015 - First Quarter Update

    We are still working on the feasiblity and practicalities of this. Ongoing - nothing to report as yet.

    2012 - Second Quarter Update

    Ongoing – nothing to report as yet.

    2012 - First Quarter Update

    No update reported.

  • Engage with the public through social media

    We will actively engage with the public through social media, in the form of tweets and a Facebook presence, keeping our website up-to-date and updates on relevant blogs and forums, in addition to traditional press releases. We see this as an important way to engage with the growing numbers of the public interested in this research topic, and a potentially important strategy to achieve greater impact from our work.

    Status:
    Implementation, Delivery

    2012 - Yearly Update

    We have successfully set up a Twitter account that reports on newsworthy events and issues in health and social care. We are awaiting King’s College approval to setting up a blog which is scheduled for June 2012.