Embedding evidence-informed working in social care and beyond

Published: 24/08/2022

Author: Sophie Christian

Back in June 2017, I started my journey at Wiltshire Council as an organisational development officer for social care – a journey that introduced me to the world of Research in Practice and the role of Link Officer.

Moving on to become an Organisational Development Consultant for Diversity and Inclusion in 2022, I am still able to embed evidence-informed practice and Research in Practice resources across the organisation. I’d like to share some of the ways we now implement Research in Practice resources across the organisation to support evidence-informed working.

Tailoring resources for our team

Firstly, in response to COVID-19, we had to adapt our approach to learning and development. We created our own intranet learning hub, to allow staff access to training and resources remotely to support their best practice and career development. For ease of use, the hub is made up of topic pages, with each page having sections covering relevant legislation and guidance, webinars, videos, podcasts, publications, toolkits, and more. In doing this, it was really easy to incorporate the Research in Practice materials onto our pages.

As a result, our Research in Practice engagement increased greatly, and the hub received almost 2,500 visits in the first 18 months. Even with COVID restrictions easing, this hub has been pivotal to staff development, as it is a platform where they can share their own examples of work and best practice across services. Having a range of resource formats helps with accessibility and suits more learning style preferences and needs.

Increasing practitioner engagement

One of the key factors that has helped us improve Research in Practice engagement is having invested senior sponsorship. With passionate Directors, Heads of Services and Principal Social Workers, we have incorporated these resources into stop-the-clock sessions, group supervisions and more.

Some other quick examples of how we use Research in Practice resources are:

  • Organisational development administrators send out Research in Practice resource links in response to learning requests.

  • Our Principal Social Worker includes links in the monthly Families and Children’s Services newsletter.

  • Incorporating a Research in Practice introduction as part of our induction process.

  • Creating accounts for our foster carers.

Supporting best practice in the wider organisation

In my new role, I am able to look at Research in Practice’s resources on cultural competence and equality and diversity and share them not only with Families and Children’s Services staff, but with the whole organisation: using them in our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion steering group meetings to share with Heads of Services (inclusion leads) and staff network leads. This enables us to look at working in a more inclusive and culturally competent way with both our colleagues and the community.

Although many of the resources were created and aimed to support best practice in social care, we have looked at them from a ‘one team’ organisation perspective that has helped identify where other services can benefit. At the end of the day, we all work to support our community though our interaction with children and families. We found these evidence-based resources can be useful for customer services staff, librarians, refugee support teams, and so many more.

Safeguarding and evidence-informed practice is the responsibility of everyone, and Research in Practice helps us to implement that.

Sophie Christian

Sophie Christian is an Organisational Development Consultant for Diversity and Inclusion at Wiltshire Council. She is also a former Research in Practice Link Officer at Wiltshire Council.