Adult Social Care – where’s the evidence?

Jo Moriarty Nov 2014bJo Moriarty and Martin Stevens are Senior Research Fellows at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit. (1,192 words)

People often talk about the absence of a social care evidence base, but ‘patchy’ is a far better description. Until we arMartin Stevense more explicit about this, it will be difficult to make progress in achieving evidence based policy and practice. We took part in two Meet the Researcher sessions at an event jointly organised by Research in Practice for Adults (RIPfA), the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS). They were part of a day-long seminar designed to bring Directors and Assistant Directors of Adult Social Care and researchers together to discuss current and future adult social care research. Continue reading

Social work research with adults in England: The state we’re in

Manthorpe and Moriarty 2016 Social work research-01The adult social work sector in England needs to urgently identify its key research priorities, in an inclusive and rigorous way, if it is to generate the ideas and evidence needed to ensure that people receive the best possible support, according to researchers at the Policy Institute, King’s College London.

In a discussion paper on the state of social work research with adults in England, the researchers stress that the profession needs to be underpinned by research if it is to survive and to flourish. Among their recommendations are the establishment of a network that provides learning and mentor support for early career researchers, practitioner researchers, and managers interested in adult social work research, something that currently exists for researchers working on subjects such as ageing or in health services research. Continue reading

What social care support is provided to family carers? What support do family carers want?

Jo Moriarty Nov 2014bJo Moriarty is Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit in the Policy Institute at King’s. This month sees the publication of the Research Findings of a project she led on Social care practice with carers. (736 words)

 

I’ve lost the man that I fell in love with and I now just feel like a full time nurse. (Nicola-Jane, Carer08)

Research about family carers often focuses on the problems they face. However, at a time when increases in social care funding are not enough to meet the additional demand for services and when it is expected that the gap between the number of people needing support and the number of people able to support them is widening, we need to focus not just on problems but on finding better ways to support the six and half million people providing unpaid help to members of their family and friends in the United Kingdom. Continue reading

Expectations and reality: social care support in old age

Jo Moriarty

by Jo Moriarty

Two weeks ago I went to Greenwich Pensioners Forum. Last week I was at the Hackney Older People’s Reference Group. In the last month, Unit Director Jill Manthorpe and I must have spoken to almost 500 older Londoners at various meetings. Without exception, the discussions have been lively and well-informed but running through them has been uncertainty about the future of social care support for older people.

These experiences made me question a widely held assumption about how baby boomers, those born between 1948 and 1964, will experience old age. I have lost count of the times that I have heard commentators, policymakers, and researchers tell me that services for older people will improve because baby boomers have higher expectations and will demand good quality support. So that’s why reports such as ‘Close to Home’, undertaken by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, express concerns about the quality of care services and Age UK organises a ‘care in crisis’ petition. It’s simply a question of older people upping their expectations!

Some years ago I was sitting next to a member of our Service User and Carer Advisory Group listening to yet another lecture looking forward to this new dawn. She has been a campaigner and activist throughout almost all her life. I asked her what she thought of the views being expressed. ‘Oh, I don’t think the baby boomers will find it so easy’, she replied.  ‘They don’t know how to act collectively’. Perhaps she is right. After all, individualism has been identified as a core value of the baby boomers.

Recently, in a discussion on the radio programme You and Yours about the proposal to allow 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland to vote in the referendum on independence, Ben Page of Ipsos MORI said that if their turnout was anything like that of 18-24 year olds, their votes would be unlikely to influence the result. Perhaps it’s significant, he added, that older people are more likely to vote and benefits for older people such as the winter fuel allowance have remained untouched. This discrepancy between older and younger voters is especially high in the United Kingdom where in the last general election, 84 per cent of people aged 55 and over voted compared with 61 per cent overall.

It’s true that many older people don’t feel that they have enough information about what support is available and how to access it and the increasing reliance on websites alone as an information source means there is a risk that the digital divide will widen. At the moment, less than a third of those aged 75 and over have ever used the internet, an important statistic in the light of proposals for online information and advice in the Care and Support White paper.

However, we also should not forget that public knowledge of how social care is funded remains very low. The literature review carried out as part of the Dilnot Commission on the Funding of Care and Support  quotes one survey reporting that a third of people still think that local councils provide free home care! As changes take place as a result of the Care and Support White Paper and as local councils tighten their eligibility criteria, I wonder how many baby boomers envisage what their future care needs might be and how they will be able to fund them.

Jo Moriarty is a Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London and tweets as @Aspirantdiva. Jo is speaking about her research project, Social care practice with carers: an investigation of practice models at the School for Social Care Research on 7 November.


Why face to face meetings still matter

Jo Moriarty

by Jo Moriarty

It seems strange to begin a blog suggesting that face to face meetings are an important way of sharing research findings, but that was the conclusion I reached after our joint seminar between the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London and researchers from the Welfare, Inequality and Life Course (VUL) work group based in the Department of Sociology at the University of Bergen, Norway.

The aim was to share our ideas and experiences. Academics are sometimes accused of working in ivory towers. This could not be said of Liv Johanne Syltevik, Kjetil Lundberg, Ann Nilsen, Bo Vignes and Karen Christensen who arrived at the Unit hotfoot from a visit to Hounslow Job Centre Plus. Liv and Kjetil explained that the visit was part of their research looking at the impact of the merger of former employment and social insurance services into a single Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV). Martin Stevens and Jess Harris then spoke about the Jobs First project which looks at how people with learning disabilities can be supported to enter employment.

University of Bergen

University of Bergen

SCWRU offices

Our offices at King’s

The two presentations highlighted how different terms can reflect deeper differences between welfare regimes. In Norway, where most citizens would expect to receive support and assistance from the NAV over the life course, people in contact with the service are described as ‘users’. In the UK, people using Job Centre Plus are described as ‘customers’ although, for many, paid work is a form of consumption they will not experience. In a further irony, we heard how Norwegian unemployment rates are much lower compared with the UK.

Karen Christensen and Ann Nilsen

Prof. Karen Christensen (left), who chaired the seminar at the Unit on 26 September, is Visiting Research Fellow at King’s. With Prof. Ann Nilsen

We talked about similarities too; in the use of mixed methods in research about transitions to adulthood and family carers and how older migrants in both countries often face similar issues. Karen mentioned the possibility that people might take up transnational care careers, working in the sector in different countries. As Shereen Hussein explained her analysis showing how some care workers in England earn less than the national minimum wage, I started wondering how average care worker wages compare across the European Economic Area.

Kjetil Lundberg and Bo Vignes

Kjetil Lundberg and Bo Vignes; Prof. Liv Johanne Syltevik in the background

You can learn a lot about the ways in which different countries organise care and support by reading journal articles and attending conferences. However, at conferences, time for discussion is often limited. This is generally because of the need to negotiate labyrinthine venues. I once attended a conference where you needed to be a time traveller to go to the place where refreshments were served and return to the building where presentations were taking place in time for the next session. We’re increasingly aware of the potential for researchers and practitioners from different countries to use social media for discussion. However, there is something about meeting face to face that promotes dialogue. It’s also much nicer to eat real homemade cake and muffins than to experience them virtually! We are all looking forward to keeping in touch and building connections between the two units.

Jo Moriarty is a Research Fellow at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London and tweets as @Aspirantdiva. Jo’s study of family carers, which she introduced at the seminar, has started reporting.

VUL group with Professor Manthorpe

Bo Vignes, Kjetil Lundberg, Prof. Jill Manthorpe (Director of SCWRU), Prof. Liv Johanne Syltevik, Prof. Karen Christensen and Prof. Ann Nilsen