Join the search party

Diane Gwynne-Smith is director of knowledge management
at Scie and has led the redevelopment of what was the electronic
Library for Social Care and is now Social Care Online. She leads on
disseminating knowledge, information and evidence to the social
care sector.

Online databases have usually been the preserve of information
professionals and researchers. Indeed, many people don’t even know
what one is. But that is about to change. Social Care Online,
launched by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (Scie) this
week, is social care’s equivalent of a search engine. Type in
anything you want to know about social care, and you’ll find the
answer to your question.

Social Care Online, formerly the electronic Library for Social
Care, is a virtual warehouse of social care information and is the
UK’s most complete range of information and research on social
care. It includes good practice guidance, government publications,
inspection reports, legislation, service user knowledge, social
care practice reports, standards documents and training material,
consultation documents, directories of other social care resources
and organisations and free access to major social care databases
and websites.

And Social Care Online is most definitely not the preserve of
information professionals. It has been designed to be user-friendly
and it is free, so it is a key tool for everyone with a career or
an interest in social care. It will be particularly useful for
registered social workers, who will be able to use it to fulfil
their post-registration training and learning obligations, and
social work students, who will find it a source of information.
Social Care Online has also been designed to be fully accessible,
making it an ideal way for people with visual impairments to access

You can find results both by browsing social care topics and also
by creating your own search query. There are different levels of
searching available, ranging from a simple search for people who
want a quick and easy response to a complex search for more
detailed information. But it is not a stagnant database of
information: it is updated daily, so if you’ve heard about an
article and want to lay your hands on it, you can just log

How can it help…
A social work practitioner?
When you are drowning in casework, you need access to
accurate and up-to-date information and you need it fast. Social
Care Online offers free access to thousands of resources on good
practice, topical research briefings and online training.

A student?
Social Care Online is a one-stop-shop for material for
students preparing essays and researching their dissertations. You
can also use it to check out the good practice guidance to get your
practice placement off to a good start. The online tutorials will
also help you to improve your research skills.

A researcher or academic?
For many academics and researchers Social Care Online will
be the first stop in their literature searches. With more than
80,000 referenced abstracts, full text articles, research reviews,
research briefings and more, it’s a good way to get a project
started. And each piece of information is referenced, abstracted
and indexed.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence has launched
its online social care database, Social Care Online. Formerly the
electronic Library for Social Care, Scie has redeveloped the
database to make it more user-friendly and information easier to

Further information
Social Care Online has links to a range of “teach
yourself” tutorials to help improve research, human resources and
internet skills. These include the internet social worker tutorial
written by Scie. Go to the Training and Learning section.

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