Action Research!

IRISS has created a really wonderful video on action research in organisations.  The focus is the improvement of public services.  It uses the example of children’s services and focuses on a piece of action research conducted of Cedar (Children experiencing domestic abuse recovery).  I think it’s a useful way to think through some of the challenges and benefits that we might face on the PROP project. For more detail, see the post on IRISS’ website here.

Reflections on Practitioner-Research 1

At each training event, we will try to capture some of the immediate impressions of the training as well as practitioners’ thoughts on their research practice more broadly.  So far, this conversation has occurred through an informal round-robin where practitioners are given the opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities – highs and lows – of the research.

Here are a selection of the comments from the first training event:

Our round-robin highlighted some of the anxieties about beginning a new research project. Concerns were raised about the size of the project and the time and effort required to do it – and do it well.  There was also some discussion about “just wanting to get started” even if it was “daunting”. And some questions about research access and ethical clearance to do research, i.e. “how to get to the first base”.

When discussion focused on specific research projects, there tended to be an interest in “finding the best tool for practice” or “the best way of supporting” older people and carers. Some of us wondered whether “we would get the answers” and others asked “what if they are answers people don’t want to hear”.

Overall, there was a sense that we’re “not alone” – that PROP is an open and honest space where we feel “we’re all in the same boat”. There was also some discussion about the importance of looking forward to the “end products” so that we can think about where we want to be when we finish and what we want to achieve.


Save the date! October 22, 2012!

We have now set the date for our first knowledge change event in the PROP project – October 22, 2012.  This is an afternoon event running from approximately 13:00-16:00.  It will be hosted at IRISS in Glasgow.  More detail to follow shortly.

In the meantime, please check out our overview of the Knowledge Exchange activities which we carry out over the course of this project here.

Searching for Literature: Some Useful Tools

IRISS has produced a list of useful resources for searching and accessing existing research which may be useful to the PROP practitioners.  The IRISS Learning Exchange is a very useful place to search for information on key topics in health and social care.

There are also a number of different examples of project outputs and different forms of dissemination.  A quick browse through this might help practitioner-researchers to think about how learning from research can be exchanged.  When the projects are complete, we may want to think about adding our own section to the Learning Exchange.


Research Planning: A Handbook for Practitioner-Researchers

As part of our first researching training event ‘resources for research’, the PROP project team produced an introductory handbook about the PROP project and key elements of the research planning process.  This includes a self-audit for ethics clearance and guidance on creating a research proposal.  There is a also a flowchart which outlines the key stages of the research process: Plan, Do, Analyse and Exchange.

This material is partially based on resources that were produced for previous practitioner-research programmes, in particular the Engaging with Involuntary Service Users in Social Work project which was carried out by The University of Edinburgh in 2010.

A copy of this handbook can be found here: PROP Introduction to Research Handbook

Practitioner researchers in training….

Today was the first practitioner research training event as part of this project.  It was also the first time I had met the practitioners who will be undertaking research projects about older people over the next few months.

This then really represents the start of a journey, or the beginning of the next step perhaps (given its taken us over a year to even get here!).

At the event today everyone was asked to choose an image which best represented what research meant to them.  Here are the images everyone chose, and as people explained their thinking I was amazed by the perceptions and level of knowledge in the group.

Which one would you choose?

What does research mean to you?


Project Update #1

The PROP project continues to grow.  We have now recruited practitioners from seven different organisations with an interest in care for older people.  They include: Alzheimer Scotland, Barchester Healthcare, NHS Lothian, West Lothian Council, Midlothian Council, VOCAL, Glasgow City Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Our first research training session is next week.  It’s designed to provide an overview of the research programme and some introductory discussion of designing and doing research.  More than that, it should be a day of networking amongst practitioner-researchers, mentors and the project team.  We’ll be working quite closely together for the next 10 months or so – this should give us a change to get to know one another.

Details of the first event are available here.

Looking forward to meeting everyone next week!

Practitioner research resources – call for assistance

We are in the process of compiling a collection of resources on the topic of practitioners who undertake research (particularly focused on social service practitioners).

We are interested in resources, for example, which:

  • map out who practitioners undertaking research are and what research they do
  • explore how practitioners can be supported to undertake research
  • describe practitioners experiences of undertaking research
  • are examples of research undertaken by practitioners

The collection will shortly be made available for all to access on the Learning Exchange.

Please post here if you have any suggestions or contact

Welcome to PROP

Practitioner research: older people

As western societies experience an aging population, improving, or even maintaining, the quality of health and social care of older people is a significant issue.  Reflecting wider trends, in Scotland by 2031 the number of people aged 65 and over is projected to be 58% higher than in 2004.  This represents a significant challenge to health and social care services, as well as to individuals providing care to relatives or friends.

This project brings together a team of academics, policy-makers, practitioners, older people accessing health and social care provision, and specialists in evidence-use and knowledge media.  Collectively we will draw together existing evidence, generate new evidence and improve the use of this evidence to improve the lives of older people across Scotland.

One of the key outputs of the project will be the delivery of a practitioner research programme, through which practitioners (and potentially older people receiving support) will be supported to undertake small-scale research projects. NHS Lothian, Scottish Care, West Lothian Council, Glasgow City Council and Alzheimer Scotland are partners in the project, and will release up to 3 members of staff each to participate in the practitioner research programme.

The project is being led by CRFR (University of Edinburgh) and IRISS (Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services).