Purpose of the project and background
The purpose of this protocol is to clearly set out the aims, objectives and commitments of the Research Prioritisation Project What matters most in developing family support services in Wales?
Family support services are local authority services, such as social workers, that work with families to help them through problems. They also include services delivered by organisations like Action for Children and Barnardo’s, mental health services, drug and alcohol support, homelessness services, asylum seeker and refugee services, and other types of support from community groups, families and friends.
The project is being run by Social Care Wales and Health and Care Research Wales in association with the James Lind Alliance (JLA). Whilst the project is not following the full JLA Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) process, it will be mindful of the fundamental principles, including that of fairness and transparency. The Working Group will review the Protocol regularly and any updated versions will be sent to the JLA and published on its website.
The JLA is a non-profit making initiative, established in 2004. It brings patients, carers and clinicians together in PSPs. These PSPs identify and prioritise the evidence uncertainties, or ‘unanswered questions’, that they agree are the most important for research in their topic area. The aim of a PSP is to help ensure that those who fund health and care research are aware of what really matters to patients, carers and clinicians. The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR – www.nihr.ac.uk) coordinates the infrastructure of the JLA to oversee the processes for PSPs, based at the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC), University of Southampton.
Social Care Wales (SCW) works with people who deliver and use care and support services and a range of organisations to lead and support improvement in social care in Wales and to build confidence in the workforce. In 2018 in partnership with HCRW they developed a social care research strategy for Wales. https://socialcare.wales/research-and-data/research-strategy-for-wales
Health and Care Research Wales (HCRW) is a national, multi-faceted, virtual organisation funded and overseen by the Welsh Government’s Research and Development Division in the Population Health Directorate. It provides an infrastructure to support and increase capacity in research and development across health and social care areas, runs a range of responsive funding schemes and manages the NHS R&D funding allocation. https://www.healthandcareresearch.gov.wales/
In late 2021, Social Care Wales and Health and Care Research Wales decided to work together on a project to establish research priorities in Wales relating to strengths-based approaches to supporting children and families. The priority for the project is to ensure that the views of parents, families and social care practitioners are the starting point for the development of research priorities. In late April 2021, Social Care Wales convened a Working Group to guide the project, including people from organisations with expertise relating to social services for children and families, and three public members (parents) with relevant lived experience. Following their first meeting in January 2022, the Working Group agreed that the project would concentrate on social care services for children and families, with a focus on what real-world changes need to happen so that “strengths-based approaches” can be used in practice. The drive behind the project is to understand where new research is needed to help us answer the question: What matters most in developing family support services in Wales?
Scope, aims and objectives of the project
The aims of the Project are
- to identify the most pressing concerns from parent, family, young people and practitioner perspectives relating to What matters most in developing family support services in Wales? and then to prioritise those that parents, families, young people and practitioners agree are the most important for research to address.
- to take these research priorities to a wider group of stakeholders including researchers and funders to develop the priorities into tractable research questions
- to develop a social care research agenda that looks at how strengths-based approaches can help solve some of the most important issues. Strength-based approaches focus on building people’s strength and resilience to help them gain confidence that things can change and improve in their lives.
The objectives of the Project are to:
- work with parents, families, young people and practitioners to identify evidence uncertainties about the delivery of care and support services to families in Wales;
- to agree by consensus a Top 10 list of research priorities for research.
- to publicise the Top 10, and information about the project and how the Top 10 were decided.
Following the project, Social Care Wales and Health and Care Research Wales will
- publicise the Top 10, and information about the project and how the Top 10 were decided
- discuss the Top 10 priorities with researchers to help us decide the approach to further work that is needed for each. There will be a variety of approaches required: from new research evidence, new evidence syntheses, dissemination, or working with others to promote knowledge mobilisation. Priority will be given to the development of tractable research questions
- work with funding bodies to encourage them to incorporate the Top 10 into their own priorities for research funding.
The scope of the Project is defined as looking at:
- Evidence needs related to family support services in Wales
- where these family support services are
- received by families with children under 18 (whether or not children are living at home or in a placement); and
- delivered by a Welsh Local Authority or commissioned by Local Authorities but delivered by a third sector organisation, or delivered independently by a third sector organisation.
- and where evidence needs include (but are not limited to) those that relate to:
- adult services and/or children’s services
- the sustainability of those services, including considerations of work load, effectiveness; cost-containment; and flexibility to adapt to peaks in demand
The Project will exclude from its scope questions about care and support that
- have not come from people with relevant lived experience (i.e. responses from someone who has not received or delivered family support services in Wales)
The Working Group is responsible for discussing what implications the scope of the project will have for the evidence-checking stage of the process. Resources and expertise will be put in place to do this evidence checking.
The Working Group
The project is led and managed by a Working Group involving the following:
|Lisa Trigg||Project Lead, Social Care Wales (SCW)|
|Michael Bowdery||Health and Care Research Wales|
|Kathryne Breen||Parent Advisor|
|Jan Coles||Head of Powys Children’s Services|
|Leanne Cook||Parent Advisor|
|Annabel Lloyd||Head of Children’s Services Rhondda Cynon Taff, Chair of All Wales Head of Children's Services (AWHOCS)|
|Layla Rodd||Parent Advisor|
|Cathryn Thomas||SCW (Subject matter expert)|
|Katherine Cowan||James Lind Alliance Senior Advisor|
|Hannah Spring||Information Specialist|
|Emma Small (Secretariat)||Project Manager (R&D Division, Population Health, Welsh Government)|
|Sarah Atkinson (Secretariat)||Project Coordinator (SCW)|
|Sara Evans (Secretariat)||Project Support (SCW)|
|Rosie Scotcher||work experience|
The Working Group has oversight of, and takes key decisions on, the Social Care Research Prioritisation Pilot Project, and are advised by the Senior JLA Advisor. Key decisions include project scope; communications plan; engagement with partner organisations; approval of the project plan, survey design and workshop design; and oversight of development of the indicative questions and tractable research questions.
The Working Group may vote on some decisions. The Project Manager, Secretariat and guests do not vote.
Decisions on the following areas will remain with the Social Care Wales: Resource allocation and procurement for the project; Other follow-up work by Social Care Wales that takes place after the close of the project.
Decisions on the following areas will remain with Health Care Research Wales: Health and Care Research Wales research funding; Engagement with other funders with a view to contributing research questions to commissioned calls; Other follow-up work by Health and Care Research Wales that takes place after the close of the project.
Organisations and groups will be invited to be involved with the Project as partners, and to promote the project surveys, recruit participants and organise facilitated discussion groups.
The partners will help promote the Project and encourage their represented groups or members to participate in the survey, facilitated discussion groups (where appropriate) and the workshop. Partners represent the following groups:
- Families in receipt of care and support services in Wales
- Young people who have had contact with family support services
- Social workers and other social care professionals working in family support services that have been delivered or commissioned by Local Authorities in Wales, or delivered by a third sector organisation.
Some organisations may be judged by the Working Group to have conflicts of interest, for example those with a commercial interest. These may be perceived to potentially cause unacceptable bias to the project. As this is likely to affect the ultimate findings of the project, those organisations will not be invited to participate. It is possible, however, that interested parties may participate in a purely observational capacity when the Working Group considers it may be helpful.
The methods the Project will use
This project uses a rapid version of full JLA PSP process to identify a Top 10 list of research priorities. This process was tested in 2020/21 and is run “In Association with the James Lind Alliance”. Two additional stages to the process where the top research priorities identified in the first workshop are (a) developed into tractable research questions and then (b) developed into a longer-term work programme that will be taken forward by Health and Care Research Wales.
The processes that will be used in this project has been set out in a separate document (Research-Prioritisation-Social-Care-Pilot-Project-Plan), which was agreed by the Working Group on 1 March 2022, and will be regularly reviewed and amended by that group, with advice from the JLA Advisor. To summarise, the steps will be:
- Consultation via online survey to gather questions about the delivery of social care and support to older people
- Analysis of the consultation data, to develop summary questions
- Review of summary questions against existing evidence
- Prioritisation of unanswered questions by parents, families, young people, practitioners and their representatives, via online survey and online workshop discussions.
- Further consideration of the existing evidence in relation to the priority research areas
- Development by researchers, funders and other stakeholders of these priority areas into tractable research questions and/or wider dissemination or knowledge mobilisation activity.
What matters most in developing family support services in Wales?
Setting priorities for social care research in Wales
What is the aim of this project?
Social Care Wales and Health and Care Research Wales want to identify research priorities relating to care and support for families and children.
We want to find out the most pressing concerns, from the perspectives of parents, families and young people who are in contact with family support services and the practitioners who support them. We are seeking to hear from a wide range of people. The real-life experiences and views of families and social care practitioners are at the heart of this project. We will then work with those groups to prioritise the ones that they think are most important for research to address. The aim is to develop a social care research agenda that will explore who Strengths-Based Approaches may be able to help solve some of the most pressing issues. Strength-based approaches focus on building people’s strength and resilience to help them gain confidence that things can change and improve in their lives.
How we will do this
We are working in association with the James Lind Alliance using an adaptation of their method for prioritising research.
We will launch two surveys in 2022. The surveys will ask people to tell us their questions and comments about the delivery of family care and support.
One survey will be aimed at parents, families and young people. The other survey will be aimed at social care practitioners.
We will then develop questions for research, based on the responses. The questions that have not been answered by research already will go into a prioritisation process, in which parents, families, young people and practitioners will be asked to discuss and choose the ones that they most want research to address.
By the end of the process, we will have a top 10 list of priority topics that need further research. The results of the project will be published on the Social Care Wales website in autumn 2022.
Please take part in the surveys if:
- You (or someone in your family) have been in contact with family support services in Wales, or
- You work as a social care practitioner to deliver care and support to families in Wales
For more information visit the Social Care Wales website https://socialcare.wales/news-stories/developing-family-support-services
Or contact the project manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
Agreement of the Working Group
The Working Group agreed the content and direction of this Protocol on 1 March 2022.