The March Social Care and Research event at Lincoln’s Showroom saw the bringing together of the Social Care and Research communities in a programme designed to introduce the two sectors to each other and start some meaningful conversations.
Social Care is now a priority focus for the NIHR and while much of this remains health research in social care settings, there is a clear determination and commitment to make serious inroads into social care research. This was demonstrated in both Leanne Dew’s (Research Lead DOHSC) and Geraldine MacDonald’s (NIHR National Social Care Lead) presentations.
I think it is fair to say that ‘eyes were opened’ in both communities as discussions around the table and further presentations from social care providers and networks opened up a sense of the breadth and width of social care provision on one hand and the considerable support, funding and research career development pathways that exists for the social care sector, on the other.
What became increasingly clear throughout the day’s programme is that there are some major challenges ahead but also great opportunities for any who are willing to connect and engage.
It was agreed that there is huge potential for continued engagement, relationship building and learning on both sides. A real appetite for this was evident through conversations, and evaluation feedback, where recommendations included ‘more of these types of engagement events’, more opportunities to hear ‘real studies in easy to understand language, highlighting the many benefits of research involvement for all stakeholders’.
It was difficult to measure the sense of ‘heightened interest and enthusiasm’ but many there appeared to experience a ‘revelation’ and new understandings on how positive an experience it can be for research to move deeper into social care with both health and social care research questions and studies. The important issue here, is to capitalise on this genuine interest in both communities and maintain momentum. The journey does not promise to be easy, but all are agreed it has the potential to be vitally important and a hugely worthwhile one.
CRN EM & UoL