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Christina S. Plafky, University of Oxford

Developing Research-Mindedness across a foster care organisation

The integration of research evidence in the work of practitioners is a complex issue and the expectation to use research in social work practice is increasing (Croisdale-Appleby, 2014; Gambrill, 2007; Gray et al., 2011; Nutley et al. 2013; Sharples, 2013). The available literature is growing, however, there is still little literature available on how this can be undertaken and evaluated in practice. The proposed paper describes the project ‘Developing Research-Mindedness across a foster care organisation’. The author is engaged in being a ‘Researcher-in-Residence’ within professional teams in the organisation, both encouraging better use of existing evidence and evaluation of current and changing practices.

Change management methods are used in combination with a multi-level strategy to implement research-to-practice. This activity is itself being evaluated, which includes surveys, semi-structured interviews, observations as well as creative data collection methods (e.g. participatory research) and tries to answer questions relating to the use of research findings in the day-to-day practice and how a working culture based on research-mindedness can be established.

The paper presents this innovative model and discusses some insight into the first eight months of implementation and evaluation of the project. This offers valuable information for other organisations, researchers and practitioners on how the development of evidence-informed practice can be evolved.