Social care - defining, evidencing and improving: mixed-methods qualitative study

Findings from a mixed-methods qualitative study, that used interviews and creative research workshops, and developed a model (based on the 3Rs of respectful, responsive and relational) that explains how ‘good’ social care in Scotland can be defined, evidenced and improved.

7. Conclusions and implications

This research contributes to the developing evidence base for a National Care

Service with a focus on how to define, evidence and improve 'good' social care. Based on qualitative data from over 80 stakeholders, the research has defined 'good' social care as comprising three characteristics: respectful, responsive and relational. These characteristics focus on having respect for the people using and working in social care, being responsive to individual and contextual complexity, and recognising that everything takes place in relationship with others. The "3Rs" model provides an approach to operationalising these characteristics when designing and delivering social care, building and sustaining the social care evidence base, and designing and implementing a national approach to social care improvement. The "3Rs" model (Figure 1), is offered as a practical tool to support conversations and decision-making as the Scottish Government continue to work with stakeholders across the sector to lead and implement social care reform. It offers a support for staying anchored to the distinct core values that define what 'good' social care looks like, as determined by the people whose voices matter most; those who are using and working in social care. It is suggested that the "3Rs" model could contribute in the following ways to key policy conversations:

  • Informing the programme of national co-design work underway to build an NCS that delivers on what is most important to people using and working in social care.
  • Sensitively navigating and negotiating relationships between health and social care when operationalising the partnership agreement between Scottish Government, Local Government and the NHS.
  • Designing and implementing a national vision and co-ordinated, evidence-informed approach to social care improvement under the NCS.
  • Supporting Scottish Government analysts and policymakers to design and implement a responsive evidence plan for the NCS that addresses current inequities, sets flexible benchmarks, and values different types of evidence, including qualitative data.
  • Informing and improving how policy teams engage stakeholders and build evidence of 'good' social care into national policy planning
  • Giving stakeholders across the social care sector a useful tool to articulate the distinct core values of social care and to facilitate their conversations with decision-makers.



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