Reflection on presenting at NIHR ARC North Event – Mind the Gap: London boroughs’ ideas for adult social care research

Lucy JacobsLucy Jacobs is a Senior Social worker with London Borough of Bromley Adult Social Care currently undertaking a Pre-Doctoral Local Authority Fellowship in the NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London. (1192 words)

I was delighted to have been selected as one of the Local Authority Presenters to speak at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North Thames (NIHR ARC North Thames) event held on the 18 May 2023 entitled ‘Mind the Gap: London Boroughs’ ideas for adult social care research’. The event was split across a morning and afternoon session. It was hosted by the Care Policy Evaluation Centre. Co-organisers, alongside the NIHR ARC North Thames, were made up of the following: the NIHR ARC South London, the NIHR ARC North West London, the CRN North West London and the NIHR School for Social Care Research.

I felt honoured and nervous (in equal measures) to have been given the opportunity to present my topic in the morning session. Dr Sarah Jasim from the Care Policy Evaluation Centre opened the event on behalf of the organising team  and introduced the ‘World Café’ session format. The three local authority thought leaders (which included my humble self) would briefly introduce our local topics of interest and stay at our tables where attendees would subsequently rotate between the discussion tables every 30 minutes. I had never been a presenter in a ‘speed dating’ (or 30-minute speed date if you like) styled event prior to this, so it was quite exciting for me as an early researcher. Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Continue reading

A community approach to safer working practice with homelessness and addiction: an individual experience informing The People’s Recovery Project

This blog is the second in a series of three by The People’s Recovery Project (TPRP), a charity that aims to build sustained recovery for people experiencing homelessness and addiction. As a follow up to their involvement in the NIHR SSCR funded Strengthening adult safeguarding responses to homelessness and self-neglect study, HSCWRU invited TPRP to host an event at King’s. This blog by TPRP co-founders Ed Addison and Nathan Rosier shares further messages from this event and focuses on ‘lived experience’.

The People’s Recovery Project event at HSCWRU brought together individuals from across the homelessness and substance misuse sectors, and within the group were many people with both expertise and lived experience. From the foundation of TPRP, at the core of development has been the involvement of people with lived experience of both homelessness and substance use. At the event we heard from community member Danny who has been supporting the development of the charity over the past year, and who spoke of his personal lived experience of addiction and of being on the streets:

Danny’s story



I was homeless in Westminster for about 20 years. In this time, I was in and out of homelessness services, police custody and incarcerated in prison on a number of occasions. I never wanted to go to rehab and did not see this as an option. The first time I went was due to a drug rehabilitation requirement issued by the court, and it was a way of getting me out of prison. I was not ready for rehab at this point.

When you are accessing different homelessness services, such as hostels and day centres, it is really difficult to access rehab: you have to jump through so many hoops. It felt like there was always a constant block and if it was not the limitations of one service it was due to the requirement of another organisation, or legislation that says you have to have a local connection, live in the right catchment area, or meet a certain criteria. Continue reading

Overdose Prevention Centres – lessons from abroad

Carolin HessCarolin Hess is a PhD student in the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce who has been awarded Doctoral funding from the NIHR School for Social Care Research. (701 words)

Over 280 participants joined Ben Scher, a PhD candidate in Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the University of Oxford and outreach worker at St. Mungo’s, for the latest webinar of the HSCWRU Homelessness series on how low-barrier drug interventions can reach people experiencing homelessness and drug-related harms. Presenting findings of his doctoral project, which compares the lived experience of street-based drug dependency based on people’s access to low-barrier overdose prevention centres (OPC) across sites in Vancouver (Canada), Birmingham (UK), and Athens (Greece), he provided ethnographic evidence on the effectiveness and feasibility of implementing OPCs.

OPCs are “safer consumption spaces” where drug consumption is monitored by medically-trained professionals. Substantial observational evidence across the 15 countries currently operating OPCs has demonstrated how these centres can be successful in preventing fatal overdoses, reducing risk of blood borne diseases, and increasing safer injecting practices and engagement with substance treatment services. Continue reading

Improving routes into sustained recovery for people experiencing street homelessness: introducing The People’s Recovery Project

Ed Addison and Nathan RosierThis blog is the first in a series of three by The People’s Recovery Project (TPRP), a charity that aims to build sustained recovery for people experiencing homelessness and addiction. As a follow up to their involvement in the NIHR SSCR funded Strengthening adult safeguarding responses to homelessness and self-neglect study, HSCWRU invited TPRP to host an event at King’s with invited stakeholders. This was an opportunity to share ideas with a wide spectrum of perspectives from across the homelessness and substance misuse sectors, including safeguarding, commissioners, health, mental health, grassroots organisations, experts by experience and researchers. This blog by co-founders Ed Addison (left) and Nathan Rosier highlights messages from the 2023 event and introduces TPRP’s work. Continue reading

Tracing the significance of executive functioning among people experiencing homelessness

Carolin Hess is a PhD student in the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce who has been awarded Doctoral funding from the NIHR School for Social Care Research, commencing February 2023. (896 words)

Carolin Hess

In the latest webinar in the HSCWRU Homelessness series, 225 participants joined Ellie Atkins, a senior social worker and Safeguarding lead, for a presentation which asked, What does research and expert practice tell us about the importance of executive functioning assessments? The topic builds on themes from last month’s webinar, exploring mechanisms of agency and choice, and how self-neglect among homeless populations can be addressed by strengthening safeguarding responses.

The presentation opened with the question of why the Everyone In Initiative, a £3.2 million emergency fund set up during the COVID-19 pandemic to house people in the UK who were rough sleeping, did not end rough sleeping for all individuals. The scheme was widely hailed as a success, with organisations praising the unprecedented effort and rapid response to homelessness through increased partnership working and communication, which supported over 30,000 people into accessing accommodation. Continue reading

Agency and choice in multiple exclusion homelessness

Carolin Hess is a PhD student at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, King’s College London. (583 words)

Carolin HessAs part of the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce Homelessness Series, Research Fellow at the Unit, Jess Harris, and Stan Burridge (public contributor) recently presented ‘lived experience’ perspectives from the emerging findings of an NIHR School for Social Care Research funded national study of homelessness, self-neglect, and safeguarding. The event, held on 25 April, was attended by over 180 people.

In light of a recent report that revealed that 1313 people died while homeless (including people sleeping rough, in emergency or other insecure settings) in the UK during 2022, an 85% increase on the number recorded in 2019, the research could not be more timely.

Bringing together the voices of multi-disciplinary practitioners and people with lived experience, the study findings highlight the complexities of safeguarding but also offer suggestions on how to strengthen safeguarding responses and more effectively support people who face multiple exclusion homelessness (MEH). Continue reading

What’s New? LGBTQ+ in Social Work Practice Education, Placements, and the Assessed Supported Year in Employment

Victoria Grimwood is a Pre-Doctoral Local Authority Fellow at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, King’s College London. (304 words)

Victoria Grimwood

Victoria Grimwood

In the recently published Social work in England: State of the nation 2023 report Social Work England, the regulatory body of social work in England, announced an intention to increase the focus on equality, diversity and inclusion, and a commitment to the development of improved standards in education and training for the profession. As many in social work have observed, the social work profession is more diverse than the general population in England in relation to ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation.

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What happens in English generalist day centres for older people? Findings from case study research

Katharine Orellana is Research Fellow and Jill Manthorpe is Director at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce at King’s. (420 words)

Cover of a research report with a photo of two people conversingA new report aims to improve the understanding of day centre services for older people among social care and health professionals and potential collaborators.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to a greater appreciation of everyone’s need for in-person, face-to-face contact and the difficulties facing some older people when they could no longer meet other people in their day centre when these closed temporarily. Now is the time for professionals to re-examine the value and broader use of these services, and their buildings and activities. Rather than continue to view day centres to be resource-heavy or expensive services, the focus could shift to what they do, and could offer – to individuals, their staff and volunteers, the social care sector, the wider community, local councils, the NHS, and the education sector.  They have great potential to make preventive and early intervention approaches promoted by policy a local reality.

This report provides a rich, pre-Covid pandemic account of four very different English day centres for older people. It sets out their main characteristics, aims, approach, locality, interiors, formal and informal care provided, opening hours, available ‘extras’, charges made to attenders and, finally, ‘typical days’ at each. Continue reading

COVID-19’s Third Anniversary: Their Story of Wellbeing and Coping from the Health and Social Care Workforce

The Health and Social Care Workforce Wellbeing and Coping Study has published its Phase 6 Report and Executive Summary. Researchers found the workforce faces continuing substantial pressure, staff shortages and is finding it difficult to cope. In this post, we summarise our findings.

Prof Jill Manthorpe, Director of the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce at King’s, is a co-investigator on this collaborative research project, involving also researchers from Queen’s University Belfast and Bath Spa University. The study is led from Ulster University (Dr Paula McFadden is Principal Investigator).(1604 words)

Report coverThe 6th Phase of this UK-wide multi-disciplinary study explored the impact of providing health and social care in the post-pandemic era from November 2022 until January 2023. The analysis builds upon the findings from five earlier Phases, beginning during May 2020 following the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. We received 14,400 survey responses from social workers, social care workers, nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals. We conducted 18 focus groups with frontline workers, managers, and Human Resource professionals.

The study provides a unique opportunity to gain in-depth understanding of how the pre- and post-pandemic times have impacted on health and social care workers’ working life, as well as effects on their own health and well-being. Our Phase 6 report presents survey findings collected over the six-months from the end of 2022 and up to early 2023. They reflect a difficult time of unprecedented industrial action in the NHS and continuing pressures on health and social care services. During this Phase, life was returning to pre-pandemic norms for most people in society, there were few remaining public restrictions, the use of face masks had generally ceased, although still being recommended in health and social care encounters and settings. Health and social care services were therefore adapting themselves to a post-pandemic time at the same time as still caring directly for people with illnesses related to Covid-19, and delays in seeking healthcare. Other impacts of the pandemic have placed increasing pressures on health and care services, such as sickness absences, staff vacancies, and retention problems, with mental health problems and new conditions such as ‘Long-Covid’, now affecting workforce stability.

Multiple workplace factors are described as a ‘vicious cycle’. For example, increased job-related pressures, exacerbated by staffing shortages and vacancies (increased use of agency or locum staff) add to job stress and this affects staff’s mental health and well-being. Some respondents indicate lasting or new depression and anxiety, or long-standing distress or trauma because of working through the pandemic. While the survey found many staff had made use of employer’s support services, not everyone sees them as accessible or helpful. Investment is still needed here; the report’s authors recommend. Continue reading

Supporting people who identify as LGBTQ+

Victoria Grimwood

Victoria Grimwood

Victoria Grimwood is a Pre-Doctoral Local Authority Fellow at the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, King’s College London. (448 words)

Skills for Care, the strategic workforce development and planning body for adult social care in England, has undertaken to support key equality, diversity and inclusion priorities in the social care workforce. The organisation has been reaching out to those seeking equity change to ensure that the workforce is empowered to work alongside all those who draw on services in a person-centred way that focuses on what matters to them, and acknowledges their identities.

On 22 February, during LGBT+ History Month, Skills for Care hosted a well-attended virtual launch of its new learning framework for knowledge, skills and values for working affirmatively with LGBTQ+ people in later life.

The development of the framework was led by Professor Trish Hafford-Letchfield from the University of Strathclyde and Lawrence Roberts, the Pride in Ageing manager for the LGBT Foundation, a national charity delivering advice, support and information services to LGBT communities. Continue reading