Improving health and social care practice
Submitting InstitutionBournemouth University
Unit of AssessmentAllied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services
Summary of the impact
Social work is about making a positive difference to the most vulnerable
in society. Since 2008
Bournemouth University's (BU) research-based continuing professional
programmes have improved practice for 6,170 health and social care
professionals. During this
period CPD has taken place in 28 NHS Trusts, 96 Local Authorities and 39
and private sector organisations. Nurses, social workers, managers and
educators have all
developed professionally from the self-reflective approach, demonstrating
and improved management abilities. Evaluations of the effectiveness of
post-qualifying social work
education are scarce. BU's evaluative method has confirmed the value of
this CPD and its impact
on the practice of individual health and social care professionals and
BU's combination of theoretical and practice-based research gives the
balance needed to deliver
effective CPD programmes with wide-reaching impacts. The programmes are
based in research
and feed further research themselves through evaluation; creating the
cyclical and evolving
approach that has been successful in the ever-changing and always
scrutinised health and social
care sector. This work is in accordance with the Social Work Reform
Board's aim to improve social
work practice by developing the skills practitioners need to meet new
challenges, linking to very
recent developments in health and social care practice (e.g. Francis
Report 2009, 2013).
Under the direction of Brown (1995 to present), accompanied by Keen (2004
to present) and
Rutter (2002 to present), BU established research themes to develop and
professional practice. This has been delivered through key awards (G1—3)
and a range of
publications (P1-5, R9-10), including 20 monographs (e.g. R1) written on
behalf of Learn to Care;
the professional association for workforce development managers in local
primary research themes are the:
- Development of reflective practice (P1&2).
- Development of evaluative research tools (G1-3, P1-2&4-5,
- Assessment of the impact of CPD on the practice of social workers and
(P1,3&4 & R10).
- Identification of learning needs and development of future provision
(G1-3, P3,5, & R1,9).
Research has been completed across the spectrum, with nurses (R10), newly
workers (G1&R9), more experienced social workers working with children
or adults (P1,2&4),
practice educators (G3&P5) and managers (G2&R10). Each of these
studies has involved
participant (self-report) and reporter (e.g. line manager) views and has
led to the publication of a
series of textbooks and related resources. Parker (BU 2006 to present)
highlights the main
educational strategies practitioners need to employ in developing the
workforce of the future and
identifies a lack of models to evaluate effectiveness of training
programmes (P3); something that
lends further weight to the evaluative work undertaken
One of the most significant areas of research is in leadership and
management in the sector.
Brown received a `Skills for Care' research grant in 2007 to scope a
pathway for leadership and
management development (G2). Researchers sought the views of Local
Authorities and other
independent, private and voluntary sector organisations to evaluate
leadership and management
needs (R10). They examined factors that required the pathway to:
- Have a specific sector (not generic MBA) focus i.e. leading and
developing care services.
- Be in accord with the National Leadership and Management Strategy.
- Be delivered at a time and location to suit the employer.
In 2010, BU received follow-on funding of £51,000 from Devon, Hampshire,
Worcestershire Local Authorities to translate these findings into a
Through this process, Brown enabled the development of the concept of
`self-leadership' for use
on the programme. Self-leadership is a new approach (R1) that focuses on
changing the behaviour
of managers by changing their thinking and communication processes (R10).
References to the research
Key research awards
G1. Funder: Skills for Care.
Title: Tracking the Learning and Development Needs of Newly Qualified
Reference number: SW-LRN0607-BOU11. Amount: £34,950.
Dates: Awarded 22 September 2006; completed 1 May 2007.
Report: Brown, K., Immins, T., Bates, N., Gray, I., Rutter, L., Keen, S.
& Parker, J. (2007). Tracking
the learning and development needs of newly qualified social workers
project. Bournemouth: BU.
G2. Funder: Skills for Care.
Title: Scoping and Development of a Regional Post-Qualifying
Leadership and Management
Pathway. Reference number: SW-LRN0607-BOU26. Amount: £24,950.
Dates: Awarded 19 April 2007; completed 15 August 2007.
Report: Brown, K. & Gray, I. (2007). Scoping and development of a
leadership and management pathway. Final report for Skills for Care.
G3. Funder: Skills for Care, on behalf of the Social Work
Title: Assessment of the Practice Educator Framework Demonstration
Reference number: NAT-BOU-90145. Amount: £52,839.75.
Dates: Awarded 1 January 2010; completed 29 October 2010.
Report: Brown, K., Keen, S., Parker, J., Rutter, L. & Williams, S.
(2010). Final assessment of the
practice educator framework demonstration projects. Bournemouth: BU.
P1. Brown, K. and Keen, S. (2004). Post-Qualifying Awards in
Social Work (Part 1): Necessary evil
of panacea? Social Work Education: The International Journal,
23(1), 77-92. DOI:
P2. Brown, K., Fenge, L-A. and Young, N. (2005). Researching
reflective practice: an example
from PQSW education. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 10(3),
P3. Parker, J. (2007). Developing effective practice learning for
tomorrow's social workers. Social
Work Education, 26(8), 763-779. DOI: 10.1080/02615470601140476.
P4. Brown, K., McCloskey, C., Galpin, D., Keen, S. and Immins , T.
(2008). Evaluating the impact
of Post Qualifying Social Work Education. Social Work Education: The
International Journal, 27(8),
853—867. DOI: 10.1080/02615470701844217.
P5. Keen, S., Parker, J., Rutter, L., Williams, S. and Brown, K.
(2011). Practice education: where
next? Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 10(2), 63-88.
Details of the impact
From 2008 onwards, 6,170 health and social care practitioners have
completed BU's research-grounded
CPD, equating to 14% of the current registered workforce of social workers
programmes have won two prestigious National Training awards since 2008 (9
in total). The total
now trained to date is 10,515, which is 25% of the social work workforce.
During the impact period,
these figures include over 500 practice educators; 500 social work
managers; 500 adult/childcare
social workers; 1,600 mental health practitioners; and 2,900 completing
the first `consolidation'
stage of a social worker's CPD (G1,P1&R9). Since 2008, BU has
worked in partnership with 28
NHS Trusts, 96 Local Authorities and 39 other major employers in England
including British Forces
Social Work Service (Fig. 1).
BU's research corroborates the impact of our professional education on
both practitioners and
organisations. Brown and Keen (P1) demonstrate that the main impact of
BU's CPD has been to
help over three-quarters of the 44 trained professionals to develop or
confirm the importance of
reflecting critically on their career and practice. Researchers (P4)
emphasise the clear impact of
BU's CPD on professionals' confidence and practice regarding policy and
legislation, and their
ability to reassess roles and responsibilities and practice reflectively
with vulnerable adults. P4 also
provides examples of organisational impact such as the development of
practice on both individuals who use services and colleagues.
The former Head of Social Work Education at the General Social Care
Council (R2), states that
those under-going BU's research-grounded CPD programmes are "more
confident in decision
making within their job roles, showing increased ability to apply critical
reflection to the social work
task and an increased ability to communicate more effectively to their
colleagues and service users." He continues: "The BU centre has not only
necessary provision, but driven it in areas of greatest need such as
management and where now a
growing evidence base is supporting the positive impact such training is
having on the workforce."
This testimony has been influential in the renaming of the BU centre as
the National Centre for
Post Qualifying Social Work.
Specifically, the leadership and management development programme has
been accessed by over
500 managers from 18 wide-ranging organisations. The impact has been
evaluated by Keen and
colleagues (R10). Managers indicate highly statistically significant
- Levels of general awareness and confidence in their work role.
- Perceived ability to communicate non-verbally, lead change through
people and create a
strong learning climate.
- Feeling less overwhelmed in dealing with conflict at work.
The results represent significant relative impact shifts of between
7%-12% over the programme.
Line managers have also confirmed the development of self-awareness,
communicative ability in their staff attending the programme (R10).
Further research with 204
managers from 11 widespread Local Authorities continues to corroborate the
above impact (R3).
All these CPD programmes are complemented by textbooks, which aid
through key professional development techniques and strategies. These are
accessible, born out
of research, yet grounded in the realities of practice. Brown has acted as
series editor for 15 books
since 2008 (31 in total). His series has sold 45,000 copies since 2008
(R4) (55,000 in total) with
Rutter & Brown's reflective practice text alone having sold 13,000
One further example of impact stands out. The underpinning research with
newly qualified social
workers (G1&R9) subsequently influenced discussions on the CPD of
social workers in the House
of Lords (R6). On the basis of the findings and the needs of newly
qualified social workers, R7 was
published. This text has sold over 5,000 copies, has been adopted as a key
text by 30
organisations who view it as an important tool in the professional
development of those working in
the sector (R4).
In addition, Brown and Keen have published over 12 monographs since 2008
(20 in total), on
behalf of Learn to Care (e.g. R1). Each of these publications has been
issued to every local
authority in England as national guidance; thereby influencing the
development of social work
practice and simultaneously facilitating the reach of the National Centre
for Post Qualifying Social
Work (see Fig. 1). The Chair of Learn to Care, classes these publications
of the quality of the research...it makes it very credible when you are
putting forward any points,
arguments or discussions with your organisations as workforce leads" (R8).
Brown has been
supported by BU to maintain his membership of Learn to Care's Executive
the REF period and since 2008 has keynoted at 29 conferences, mainly
hosted by Local
Significantly, in addition to these vast impacts on improving health and
social care practice, BU's
research has answered important questions on the effectiveness of
professional development. As
the former Head of Social Work Education at the General Social Care
Council explains: "BU's
evaluation of post-qualifying training's impact shows for the first time a
growing evidence base in
the difference it makes to social work practice and in particular, the
increased confidence social
workers have in their role, which is essential in today's complex,
demanding and challenging social
work environment" (R2).
This unique provision of research-based CPD to 14% (since 2008) of the
workforce of social workers, coupled with evaluation and publications,
demonstrates the research
team are continuing to make a positive difference to the most vulnerable
Sources to corroborate the impact
R1. Holroyd, J. and Brown, K. (2011). Leadership and
management development for social work
and social care — creating leadership pathways of progression.
Birmingham: Learn to Care.
R2. Former Head of Social Work Education at the General Social
Care Council 2007—2012. Letter
available on request. Video testimonial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH-0FF3Bjhg
R3. Impact evaluations in social work and social care workforce
Bournemouth University. Available from: http://www.ncpqsw.com/publications-all/#impactevaluation.
R4. Senior Commissioning Editor, Social Work, Social Care and
Youth Work, Sage Publishing Ltd
(contact details available).
R5. Rutter, L. and Brown, K. (2012). Critical thinking and
professional judgement for social work
(3rd ed.). London: Sage. ISBN: 978-0-857-25753-6.
R6. Hansard (2007). House of Lords Debates. 695(129), 8
October, column 88-94. Available from:
[accessed 21 November 2013].
R7. Keen, S., Brown, K., Parker, J., Galpin, D. and Gray, I.
(2013). Newly qualified social workers:
A practice guide to the ASYE (2nd ed.). London: Sage.
R8. Chair, Learn to Care, and Social Care Workforce Learning and
Development Manager, Sefton
Metropolitan Borough Council, (contact details available). Video
R9. Bates, N., Immins, T., Parker, J., Keen, S., Rutter, L.,
Brown, K. and Zsigo, S. (2010). `Baptism
of fire': The first year in the life of a newly qualified social worker. Social
Work Education: The
International Journal, 29(2), 152—170. DOI:
R10. Keen, S., Brown, K., Holroyd, J. and Lanng, E. (2013).
Evaluating the impact of the IPOP
(Improving Personal and Organisational Performance) programme. Social
Work & Social Sciences
Review: An International Journal of Applied Research, 16(1). DOI: