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Why carry out research in social care organisations?

In contemporary social care it is now expected that organisations will be research-minded and this means using, commissioning and/or carrying out research in a variety of forms.

At an abstract level the answer to the question ‘why carry out research?’ is likely to be along the lines of - 'to advance knowledge, increase understanding and to evaluate effectiveness'. More specifically reasons may include:

  • To evaluate day to day practice within teams, with a focus on the usefulness and outcomes of different forms of service provision and intervention.
  • For internal monitoring and evaluation by organisations to improve efficiency or productivity, or find ways of making savings.
  • To improve 'consumer relations', perhaps linked to a Citizen’s charter or to agency policies about how service users should be treated.
  • To contribute to staff appraisal and development processes.
  • To review and update existing information or to fill gaps. Information is now viewed as a vital resource in the personal social services and, with the arrival of computers and telecommunications, organisations are expected to be 'information-rich', with staff able to have access to a range of information at their fingertips.
  • To feed into national policy review and development.

Much of this information is not gathered as part of a formal research process, but rather through routine casework in settings that are, through advances in information technology, increasingly information-rich and for which there is a need for greater accountability.

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