Publication - Independent report

Changing Lives: Report of the 21st Century Social Work Review

Published: 7 Feb 2006

Report of the recommendations made by the 21st Century Social Work Review Group for the future of social services in Scotland.

100 page PDF

2.6 MB

100 page PDF

2.6 MB

Changing Lives: Report of the 21st Century Social Work Review
Annex A: Methods and evidence

100 page PDF

2.6 MB

Annex A: Methods and evidence

This annex provides an overview of the purpose and strands of evidence considered by the review in discharging this remit.

Section 1 contains a list of research commissioned for the review giving the report title, authors and purpose. Section 2 contains a list of calls for evidence, responses from "consultation" events and other substantive outputs prepared for the review. Full copies of each, containing aims, objectives, methods, findings and conclusions, are produced in the evidence CD.

Role of evidence and information

From the very beginning we were committed to gathering and using evidence to inform our work. Evidence has helped us to develop new questions and provide a guide and a reasoning for our decisions. Because of this, the evidence presented to us does not necessarily represent our views.

Evidence was only one factor in decision-making. We balanced it alongside other critical factors such as experience, values, resources and judgement.


Information and evidence was produced specifically for the review. This included research, calls for evidence and consultative events. We also drew on existing and other relevant research. Review group members also received input through presentations, site visits, meetings and papers.


At the beginning we identified what evidence we would need. Given the iterative nature of the process of the review and its sub-groups further requirements were raised for evidence and information requirements during the course of its proceedings.

Evidence and information produced for the review

Section 1: Research commissioned for the review

Role of the social worker

"The role of the social worker in the 21st century - a literature review"
Professor Stewart Asquith, Dr Chris Clark, Professor Lorraine Waterhouse
University Of Edinburgh

Purpose: to draw together evidence and perspectives on the role and purpose of the social worker in the modern world.

"Public knowledge of and attitudes towards social work in Scotland"
Sara Davidson and Susan King
MORI Scotland

Purpose: To research public knowledge of and attitudes to social workers, social work services and the context in which they operate. This included a public attitude survey and focus groups.

"Time for work"
Liz Bulmer
Scottish Executive

Purpose: To carry out a pilot study to provide an illustrative picture about how social workers spend their time. The specific objectives included:

  • to gather information about the specific tasks social workers undertake
  • an assessment of the balance of the tasks social workers undertake; and
  • to capture social workers views of how they spend their time

Over 100 diaries were distributed but only 16 responses were received.

"In-depth case studies to explore the delivery of social work"
DTZ Pieda Consulting

Purpose: To explore the delivery of social work services in the context of other aspects of service provision, starting from the perspective of users and carers.

Role of social work

"The need for social work intervention - a discussion paper for the Scottish 21st Century"
Social Work Review
Daphne Statham, Don Brand and Trish Reith

Purpose: To draw together evidence and perspectives on the need for social work intervention in the modern world and explore definitions of need from the perspective of users and providers and how these are interpreted in practice.

"Reducing Reoffending - Key Practice Skills"
Fergus McNeill, Susan Batchelor, Ros Burnett and Jo Knox
Social Work Inspection Agency and Glasgow School of Social Work

Purpose: To identify skills associated with reducing re-offending through review of research evidence on effective work with offenders.

"Effective social work with older people"
Brian Kerr, Jean Gordon, Charlotte MacDonald and Kirsten Stalker
Social Work Research Centre, University of Stirling

Purpose: To review the evidence base for effective social work with older people including identifying effective and desirable outcomes for older people, the distinctive skills required by social workers and the implications for future policy and practice in this field.

"The statutory social worker's role in prevention and early intervention"
Moira Walker
Social Work Research Centre, University of Stirling

Purpose: To provide the review with a report of existing evidence on how and the extent to which early intervention and preventive work in social care services is effective in making lasting change to people's lives and reducing the need for intervention at a later stage.

Organising how services are delivered

"Analysis of comparative social work/social services spending within the United Kingdom since 1994-95"
Scottish Executive

Purpose: To compare and contrast any differences and similarities in overall social services and service specific spending per head of population within the different nations of the United Kingdom, and analyse any trends or changes from 1994-95 to present.

"Delegation of authority nearer to frontline staff - a scoping paper"
Sam Maclean

Purpose: To scope the need and possibility for greater delegation of budgets and streamlining some of the complex governance and accountability structures in local government social work. It sets out the issues in context, identifies the barriers and constraints and gives a sense of whether these are inevitable or can be overcome.

'Personalisation and participation - the future of social care in Scotland'
Charles Leadbeater and Hannah Lownsborough|

Purpose: To examine the philosophy of personalisation and how it relates to social care practice and consider whether it is appropriate to Scotland's social care services, whether it is already being implemented in the current system, and what, if anything, will prevent or enable it being implemented in each care group.

"Care 21 - The future of unpaid carers in Scotland"

Purpose: Last year, Care 21 commissioned the Office for Public Management to complete an exercise on the future of unpaid care in Scotland. This comprehensive study identifies innovative solutions to the challenges faced by unpaid carers between now and 2014. It is anticipated that this exercise will reinforce existing Executive policy on carers but also encourage further progress in response to other factors such as new policies, demographic, and economic changes and an increase in expectations from users and carers. Visit for more information.

"Social Work Advisors' report on the first phase of the work with 6 local authorities and 2 voluntary organisations"
Paul Connell, Margret Coutts, Emma McWilliam and Edith Wellwood

Purpose: To provide an opportunity to explore the Review's themes within a local context and to gain more understanding of the current realities and challenges of social work practice in Scotland through 138 face to face interviews in six local authorities and two voluntary organisations.

Leadership and Management

"Leadership and management development in social services organisations - short life study"
Zoe Van Zwanenberg
Scottish Leadership Foundation

Purpose: To examine developments in leadership and management within social care, wider public services as well as other sectors and to identify implications for social care.


"Literature review on media representations of social work and social workers"
John Galilee
Scottish Executive

Purpose: To review the literature on the relationship between the media and social work, provide an explanation of such reporting, the impact of media coverage on social work practice and highlight the strategies for remedying this situation.

"Learning from failure: a review of major social care/health inquiry recommendations"
John Galilee
Scottish Executive

Purpose: To draw together the recommendations of eleven high profile inquiries carried out on the social care and health sector over the last 60 years within the United Kingdom. It considers the recurring messages from these inquiries in the shaping of social work in Scotland.

"Review of social work legislation"
Alison Higgins

Purpose: To provide a comprehensive and summary briefing on the legislation relevant to social work in Scotland.

Section 2: Calls for evidence and consultation events

"Report on analysis of responses to the call for contributions - role of the social worker"

Purpose: This call for evidence invited responses to a series of questions on the role of the social worker including:

  • the role now and in 20 years desired changes; and
  • barriers and enablers.

It was distributed to 2000 contacts in the public, private and voluntary sector and 148 responses were received.

"Report on analysis of responses to the call for contributions - delivery of services"

Purpose: Responses were invited on the organisation and delivery of social care services including:

  • planning and delivery;
  • increasing need;
  • managing demand; and
  • use of technology.

It was distributed to 2000 contacts in the public, private and voluntary sector and we received 31 responses.

Open events

We held a series of open events across the country to involve those with an interest in social work. A full report of each is available.

Reports from the 21st Century Social Work Review open events

Purpose: To enable interested parties to contribute to the review and in particular on the following:

  • the effects of the findings of the review so far;
  • possible solutions to the problems experienced within social work currently; and
  • an agreement what kind of social work we need for the future.

We placed information and applications in the local press and sent applications to over 1300 organisations and individuals in the voluntary, private and public sector. The number of people who attended were:

  • Edinburgh - 154;
  • Inverness - 67;
  • Glasgow - 216; and
  • Aberdeen - 92.

We produced reports from individual events and a report summarising all four events.

Other events

"Report of meeting with main grade social work staff"

Purpose: To consult frontline social work staff on their role as a social worker and identify:

  • what they found rewarding and unrewarding;
  • what was worth keeping/changing; and
  • barriers to effective practice.

The meetings with main grade staff were held in venues in six local authority areas. Of the 120 people who took part, 104 were from local authorities and 16 were from voluntary organisations.

"Report of event for first line and middle social work local authority managers"

Purpose: To gather the views of frontline and middle social work managers in particular to:

  • engage social work managers in the review;
  • gain managers' perceptions of social work;
  • share themes emerging from the early part of the Review; and
  • seek new ideas on where social work should be in the future.

One front line and one middle manager from each local authority social work department in Scotland were invited. A total of 51 managers, from various roles including child protection, community care, performance and practice participated.

"Report on the event with Community Care Providers Scotland ( CCPS)"

Purpose: to seek the views of CCPS members in the review, enable them to contribute to the development of solutions and to inform the review of areas requiring more in-depth consideration. The five themes specifically discussed were:

  • assessment and Care Management;
  • contracts and Commissioning;
  • gate keeping and contract regulating roles v care;
  • service boundaries and transitions; and
  • nature of partnership.

The 54 voluntary organisations which are members of CCPS were invited to attend of these 25 took part.

"The future role of social work in homelessness event"

Purpose: To engage professionals and service users in the review specifically to:

  • provide a forum for discussing the themes coming forward from the review, and
  • debate the issues of supporting people experiencing homelessness and housing problems.

We reserved two places for each local authority; one for a social worker who deals with homelessness issues and one for a homelessness officer from each housing department. A separate invite was also sent to organisations who deal with homelessness issues and they were asked to bring a client with them. A total of 110 participants attended the event.

"Report of workshop with Royal College of Nursing ( RCN) Scotland"

Purpose: To provide an opportunity to gather the views of nurses on the social work profession and to discuss issues of common interest including professional accountability, leadership and supervision.

41 people came to the event as a result of the RCN sending invitations directly to 50 RCN member network contacts and an advert placed in a RCN New Bulletin and web page.

"Report on chief social work officer event"

Purpose: To debate senior professional leadership in social work and gain agreement on developing future requirements, principles and standards. There were 18 people involved from a range of agencies including CoSLA, local authorities, SOLACE, voluntary organisations, ADSW, SWIA, the Scottish Leadership Foundation, and the Review's Leadership and Management Group.

Everyone needs to know there is someone there for them - a report on a young people's consultation
TASC Agency

Purpose: To gain young people's views on the type of society they wanted to live in, the help and support that people may need to enable them to meet their full potential. 24 young people aged between 11 and 16 took part in the consultation process.

Other reports

'21st century social work review interim report April 2005'

'Report of the Leadership and Management Sub-Group'

'Report of the Role of the Social Worker Sub-Group and Reserved Functions of the Social Worker'

'Report of the Role of the Social Worker Sub-Group - vision paper'

'Report of the Performance Improvement Sub-Group'

'Report of the users and carers panel'