Amass evidence for better outcomes

quality in practice... best use of evidence-informed practice Julie Knight (pictured) explains how adults' services staff can use evidence-informed...

Quality in practice… How adults’ services staff can use evidence-informed practice to improve decision-making

The Social Work Task Force report, Building a Safe, Confident Future, places great emphasis on practitioners and organisations engaging with continuous learning and using evidence for developing effective practice.

In response to staff asking “where do we start?”, the EIP steering group devised a simple step-by-step model which follows a sequence of plan, do, review.

Identify the need for evidence

Choose a topic or area of practice that staff want to improve or learn more about. Formulate a specific question that requires answering. Examples so far have included “what are the benefits of multi-agency ­working in adult safeguarding investigations?” and “are indi­vidual budgets appropriate for everyone?”.

Locate the evidence

Plan the search for evidence to address the question. Identify search terms and research resources, such as databases, search engines and subject ­gateways.

Appraise the evidence

Evaluate the quality of the evidence found. Refine your question and search terms if required. If no suitable evidence is found, then decide whether some further research needs to be carried out.

Adapt and apply the evidence

Consider how relevant and applicable the evidence is to ­current practice. What could be improved as a result of applying this new evidence? Present ­recommendations and justify them using the evidence found. Apply the change in a controlled way.

Evaluate the outcome

Set measurable outcomes and evaluate any changes made against these. If successful, standardise the change in pro­cedures and communicate it widely. Evaluate the process. This will help embed the learning for both staff and the organisation, and then decide whether there is another question that needs answering and return to Step 1.

Sheffield found the EIP model helped all care practitioner levels identify and apply evidence because it gave them a framework to tackle a possibly daunting and unfamiliar task.

Teams worked best through the model when they had mentors from their own service, together with experienced research guidance and support.

The teams presented their findings at an internal conference, which gave them a deadline to work to. They all had positive feedback which gave them great personal satisfaction and recognition for their hard work. It also encouraged colleagues to identify areas of practice they could use the EIP model to help improve.

Julie Knight is acting head of Care4you and chair of Sheffield Council’s EIP Steering Group

Sheffield’s EIP model and guidance

Invaluable support and guidance was provided by Research in Practice For Adults

This article is published in the 15 April 2010 edition of Community Care magazine under the headline Amass the Evidence for Better Outcomes

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