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Research – social care


Developing Evidence-Enriched Practice in Health and Social Care with Older People programme (2014-2015 – ongoing)

The DEEP programme is part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded ‘A Better Life’ which ran from 2009 to 2014. This programme produced a wealth of research evidence on the factors that promote a better quality of life for older people with high support needs. Key findings were summarized in ‘Seven Challenges’.

The DEEP programme built on these findings. It initially ran for one year in six sites, five in Wales and one in Scotland. It is essentially a storytelling and dialogic approach to learning and development, using diverse types of ‘evidence’ (i.e. research evidence, practitioner knowledge, lived experience of service user and organisational knowledge) in social care and community based prevention and well-being. It is grounded in the principles of social pedagogy in that it is a respectful, caring and relationship-centred approach.

The project used an ‘analyse, plan, do and review’ action-learning cycle:

  • Phase 1. The Seven Challenges were shared and discussed in story format in a series of focus groups with older people and carers at each site, producing emerging stories and experiences of older people and carers. Each focus group was followed by an all-day learning and planning event, using evidence from A Better Life alongside stories and quotes from the focus groups.
  • Phase 2 consisted of a monthly series of six half-day events that enabled participants to implement their ideas using additional evidence and techniques.
  • The project was evaluated using outcome-focused planning, ethnographic field notes from each event, group exercises at the end of the project and individual telephone interviews.

Project overview:

Related publication: ‘I know who I am; the real me, and that will come back.’ The importance of relational practice in improving outcomes for carers of people with dementia Emma Miller, Tamsin MacBride

Keywords: evidence, co-production, dialogue, caring, values-based, systemic, relationship-centred, storytelling, outcome-focus, older people

Contributed by: Nick Andrews, Swansea University Wales School for Social Care Research, Emma Miller, University of Strathclyde, John Gabbay, University of Southampton, Martin O’Neill, Cardiff University




Evaluating the Real-Talk programme: a co-production project

Real-Talk is led by Action Youth Intervention. It aims to support young people excluded or at risk of exclusion from school, through combining non-contact boxing training with rational emotive/cognitive behavioural therapy techniques. It has teamed up with UCL to co-produce an evaluation framework and theory of change.

The pilot involved co-producing a series of workshops at a local community centre with young people involved in Action Youth Boxing and Action Youth Boxing representatives. During the workshops we developed a theory of change for the programme, and discussed and trialed ways to assess the outcomes they identified.

A steering group with reps from all stakeholders (young people, UCL, Action Youth Boxing Intervention) oversaw the pilot, and drafted an evaluation plan to submit as part of the next evaluation stage. Since then the partners have applied for funds to evaluate the Real Talk programme in local schools using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods and involving the recruitment and training of peer researchers.

Pilot Project report:

Keywords: physical exercise, non-contact boxing, anger/aggression, well-being, young people, co-production, evaluation

Contributed by: Charlotte Woodhead, University College London




Evaluation of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. (2019-2022 with possible two-year extension)

The Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act has co-production at its heart.

As a deeply relational, responsive and ethical activity, co-production requires any associated evaluation to be designed as expressive collaborative practice in which people engage with, value and learn from one another and through a process of values-rationality gain clarity on what matters to them and why. The evaluation began with the collection of over 400 citizen’s stories and a Citizen’s Jury event. (Measuring the Mountain: what really matters in social care to individuals in Wales?)

This more formal phase of the evaluation will continue to focus on personal accounts of ‘what matters’ and why. We will look at co-production with individuals (in assessment and care planning), within services, and with local communities and will use the Most Significant Change (MSC) technique and a Community of Enquiry approach.

Our research questions are:

  • What good or bad changes have come about as a result of attempts at co-production?
  • Which of these changes are most significant?
  • What was it like before, what is it like now and what brought about the changes?

We intend to undertake three regional evaluative MSC story selection panels across Wales on nine-monthly basis, beginning in October 2019. Data gathered from these panels will be supplemented by an initial survey at the Co-production Network for Wales’ annual conference in June 2019, followed by a series of annual on-line surveys which will reach out to a wider audience.

The CoE’s will be audio-record, transcribed and analysed. Data from the panels and on-line surveys will subject to Framework Analysis with a particular focus on the guiding principles of co-production as set out in the Act. We will evaluate the guiding principles in terms of being:

  • useful (how well they are understood and applied)
  • inspiring (how well they are valued and received)
  • developmental (how well they can be applied in different contexts)
  • evaluable (what difference they have made to people’s lives).

Related publications:

The ‘Most Significant Change’ Technique: A Guide to its Use, 2015, Rick Davies, Jess Dart

The Community of Inquiry: Blending Philosophical and Empirical Research, Studies in Philosophy and Education, 34, 2015, Clinton Golding

Keywords: social care, communities, families most significant change, community of enquiry, evaluation

Contributed by: Gideon Calder, Swansea University, Nick Andrews, Swansea University, Noreen Blanluet, Co-production Network for Wales




PhD: Bringing the service users voice (and control) in to social care supervision. (2015-2021)

This research explores social work supervision in adult social work teams in Wales. The incentive for the study was to think about what impact the Social Services and Well- being (Wales) Act 2014 has had on social work practice and how supervision helps social workers change the way they work. Specifically:

  • does supervision itself focus on the outcomes of social work practice;
  • how can supervision help social workers identify ‘what difference’ they have made with service users;
  • how can citizens, services users, carers as ‘experts of their own experience’ work with managers and practitioners to co-produce knowledge and expertise that informs and extends social work practice.

Link to come.

Flyer here in pdf (supplied by the author).

Keywords: outcome focussed, strength based, social work practice, relationship based practice, citizen centred, social work supervision.

Contributed by: Heather Tyrrell, Swansea University




Co-creating Welfare: co-creating new curricula, education methods and training courses for professionals in the welfare sector working with co-creation (2018-2019)

Co-creation approaches tend to be highly appreciated by participants. Unfortunately, organisational systems seldom support these approaches, and staff are not always prepared to apply the method, simply because they are trained to work differently.

The Erasmus-funded Co-Creating Welfare project aims to change these circumstances by developing training material through a bottom-up approach based on dialogue and local cases. We provide challenges to ensure that the target group understands an acknowledges the needs of co-creation while also feeling motivated and willing to promote and use co-creation as a part of their work.

The materials created to date include a needs analysis, training materials and a number of training activity videos.

An implementation report and a set of policy and implementation recommendations will be available in spring 2019.

At the end of the project, the website will be further developed as a Co-creation Toolbox to include good-practice examples.

Needs analysis:

Training materials:

Training activity videos:

Project blog:

Keywords: co-creation training, training materials, activities, co-creation toolbox, welfare professionals

Contributed by: Gemma Pearce, Paul Magee, Coventry University & EU partners




My Home Life Cymru (ongoing)

The Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research (CADR) is led by Swansea University, in partnership with Cardiff University and Bangor University. Building on existing internationally recognised and transformative research networks, the Centre is addressing key questions in ageing and dementia. The Centre integrates multi-disciplinary activity and develops areas of expertise from biological, through psycho-social and environmental, to social policy in ageing and dementia.

My Home Life Cymru is co-hosted by CADR, the Wales School for Social Care Research., and the College of Human & Health Sciences. It is an international programme that aims to improve quality of life for those who live, die, visit and work in care homes and other health and social care settings. The programme works in Wales, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Germany and Australia.

Our research on what older people want and what works in care homes identified eight best practice themes. These are: maintaining identity, sharing decision-making, creating community, managing transitions, improving health and healthcare, supporting good end-of-life, promoting a positive culture and keeping the workforce fit for purpose. Evidence-based good practice guides have been produced for each of these priorities.

Practice guides:





Staying on my feet – A practice guide for care homes 2018

Related publication: A co-produced method to involve service users in research: the SUCCESS model. BMC Medical Research Methodology 19:1. 2019. Angela Bridie Evans, Alison Porter, Helen Snooks, Vanessa Burholt

Keywords: networks, aging, dementia, multi-disciplinary, research, older people

Contributed by: Vanessa Burhol, Gill Windle, Rebecca Sims, Swansea University CADR (Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research)




North Wales Dementia Network (ongoing)

The North Wales Dementia Network was established with support from the Bangor University ESRC Impact Acceleration Account in 2016. The Network aims to share best practice, improve collaboration, and increase the impact of dementia research into practice across North Wales.

Initially, experts in dementia came together – including people affected personally with dementia and a range of people working to support those diagnosed with dementia to live well with dementia in North Wales. This proved to be a stimulating and useful platform for sharing information and working with others passionate about making a positive contribution.

The success of this event led to a further six cross-county meetings in the first year, with 140 people attending across North Wales. The meetings involved sharing ideas, experience and knowledge, and encouraged members to identify themes which to be developed in partnership. Creative workshops, facilitated by an experienced artist, were used within the meetings to encourage discussions.

We have helped to co-produce events and conferences with people living with dementia, their carers and families, and have developed an active Facebook account to help connect up network members and share information about events & activities, policy & practice, and personal stories.

We are currently working on the co-creation of an all-Wales Dementia Strategy.

Project overview (video):

Creative workshops (video):

Facebook page:

Related publications:

Understanding quality of life and well-being for people living with advanced dementia. (2019) Nursing Older People, 31:2 2019

CareShare: An intergenerational programme for people with dementia and nursery children (2019) Psychology of Older People: The FPOP Bulletin, 145, 2019

The impact of a visual arts program on quality of life, communication and well-being of people living with dementia (2017) Psychogeriatrics, 2017

Contributed by: Catrin Hedd Jones, University of Bangor




Operation Modulus: putting Christie into practice in the Gorbals (2016)

Operation Modulus is an innovative violence and anti-social behaviour intervention aimed at a gang of young people. This case study shows how partnership, co-production and an outcome-focus can be successfully put into practice, and demonstrates that leadership is an additional essential element of successfully ‘operationalising Christie’.

Keywords: co-production, partnership working, collaborative leadership, public service reform

Contributed by: Richard Brunner, Nick Watson, University of Glasgow, What Works Scotland

The Operation Modulus Approach: further lessons for public service reform (2018)

This research into Operation Modulus builds on the original case study of this successful violence and anti-social behaviour intervention with young people in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. This report examines how the approach and learning from the original Operation Modulus has been spread to two additional communities in Glasgow: Castlefern and Govan.

Operation Modulus provides a clear, successful and practical approach to designing services for and with the community. The case study examines how co-production can be spread and demonstrates that spread of co-production is about adapting the process and the approach as opposed to replicating a programme.

Keywords: co-production, partnership working, public service reform, anchor organisation, spread

Contributed by: Jane Cullingworth, Richard Brunner, Nick Watson, University of Glasgow, What Works Scotland




Design to Care programme: Life Café. (2018 – ongoing)

The Marie-Curie funded Design to Care programme explores end-of-life care using co-design and co-production techniques to engage end-of-life services providers along with the ‘future old’. The aim is to develop a range of reflective activities to encourage people to talk about ‘death’, consider how they wish to die and plan ahead.

The community engagement aspect of the programme focuses on understanding what is important to different individuals in life, in care, and towards end of life. A methodology has been developed by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University’s Lab4Living, to enable research to be gathered in an informal, comfortable manner within existing community groups and familiar environments. This has been named the Life Café. It is designed to promote and support conversations about what individuals find meaningful in life and in care.

In the first phase of the Design to Care Programme, eleven Life Cafés have been facilitated with a total of 141 participants (from groups including chaplains, faith groups, coffee morning socials and mixed community groups), using convenience sampling.

Related research: What do Life Cafes tell us about dying and end of life care? 2018, Claire Craig, Paul Chamberlain, Helen Fisher

Keywords: end-of-life care, co-design, co-production, conversations, what matters

Contributed by: Claire Craig, Paul Chamberlain, Helen Fisher – Sheffield Hallam University, Lab4Living




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