Putting it into Practice

Title: Working together – innovative collaboration in social care research
Author: Fleming, J., Beresford, P., Bewley, C., Croft, S., Branfield, F., Postle, K. and Turner, M.
Date Published: 2014
Reference: Qualitative Social Work, 13(5), 706-722
Are service users or carers authors: Yes

Abstract: This article reflects on the experience of a collaborative research project undertaken by disabled people, practitioners and academics. The project, Standards We Expect, explored what person-centred care means, and how to achieve it in adult social care. The authors describe how their collaborative approach was developed and sustained over the large-scale, four-year project. It involved establishing a consortium – a group of organisations that met regularly to carry out the project. The authors reflect on what helped the consortium to work well. This included: developing the idea for the project and applying for funding together, forming the team that would undertake the research; strong and unanimous commitment to a participatory approach – which meant making changes in response to service user input, making involvement a positive experience and supporting more equal research relationships; a clear vision and shared set of values, particularly a commitment to the social model of disability; agreeing all procedures and processes at the start (record keeping, finances, etc); developing an informal agreement about working together at the beginning - this included expectations of behaviour, communication and how to deal with conflict; making all important decisions at face-to-face meetings; a shared commitment to achieving change – not only describing what was happening in social care but also producing evidence and learning; paying close attention to issues of diversity and equality and addressing physical, communication and cultural access issues to enable as diverse involvement as possible. The authors conclude that good ‘collaboration is not spontaneous. It needs constant attention from the beginning to the end of the project’. They believe that the time they invested in developing ways of working together initially created a firm foundation for the rest of the project.

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Categories: journal article
service users and carers
research commissioners
relevant to all service users
general principles of good practice
lessons from direct experience of involvement
identifying and prioritising topics
designing of research
managing research
writing up and disseminating
implementation and change
strategic level decision making
staff in research organisations
General guidance on involving the public in research

Date Entered: 2015/04/27

Date Edited: 2015/04/27

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