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Our approach to developing communities of practice to foster research capacities for the adult social care workforce

Hashem, Ferhana, Zhang, Wenjing, Mikelyte, Rasa, Rajan-Rankin, Sweta, Porumb, Ecaterina, Trapp, Olivia, Towers, Ann-Marie (2023) Our approach to developing communities of practice to foster research capacities for the adult social care workforce. NIHR Open Research, 3 (43). ISSN 2633-4402. (doi:10.3310/nihropenres.13461.1) (KAR id:102549)

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Background: Efforts to build and foster adult social care research in England have historically encountered more challenges to its growth and expansion compared with health research, with a sector facing significant barriers in facilitating research activity due to a lack of resourcing, poor valuation or understanding of the profile of social care research. The landscape for supporting research in adult social care has been rather bleak, but in recent years there has been recognition of the need to foster a research community. The National Institute for Health and Care Research in England have committed to investing in social care research capacity by funding six adult social care partnerships, with one based in Southeast England.

Process developing Communities of Practice (COPs): Three large online networking events were held in the first year of the project to engage managers and practitioners from the local authority and from the wider adult social care sector. These took place in July and November 2021, with a last event in March 2022. Two COPs were identified, following an ordering and thematising process of feedback from the networking events, of: (a) Supporting people with complex needs throughout the lifespan, and (b) Enhancing, diversifying and sustaining the social care workforce.

Whilst it would be premature to identify their long-term impacts, through the facilitation of 20 COP meetings held so far, alongside the engagement platforms and enrichment resources, these have provided a space for regular communication in the sector, knowledge sharing and networking between COP members.

Conclusion: The COP framework offers a collaborative approach to initiating research from the grass-roots level in adult social care. This paper focuses on how the COP model offers great promise for knowledge-exchange providing a forum to generate and disseminate knowledge around social care in our two COP domains.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3310/nihropenres.13461.1
Uncontrolled keywords: capacity building, social care research, communities of practice, shared learning
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Funders: National Institute for Health Research (
Depositing User: Ferhana Hashem
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2023 13:41 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2023 23:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Hashem, Ferhana:
Zhang, Wenjing:
Mikelyte, Rasa:
Rajan-Rankin, Sweta:
Towers, Ann-Marie:
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