Social Care Online library closes after almost 20 years

Database 'was no longer meeting needs of social care community', says SCIE, which has developed a new digital tool that it hopes to launch within the next year

Young social worker working remotely
Credit: Anton/Adobe Stock

The Social Care Online library has closed after almost 20 years providing access to information on the sector.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), which ran the service, said it was no longer meeting the needs of social care professionals.

Social Care Online provided a searchable database of abstracts relating to good practice on different aspects of social care and was targeted at practitioners, as much as students or academics.

‘Social care’s equivalent of a search engine’

It was launched in 2005, replacing the previous Electronic Library for Social Care.

At the time, SCIE described it as “social care’s equivalent of a search engine”, comprising good practice guidance, government publications, inspection reports, legislation, training material, directories of other social care resources and access to major social care databases.

However, its usage has declined considerably over the years as alternative sources of information have become available and search engines have developed, and it has been used primarily by academics and students in recent years.

It was last updated in early 2023, when the decision was taken to close it, but it finally closed in March of this year.

University users, and others, with access to the Ovid platform will be able to access the content from Social Care Online through the Social Policy and Practice database, while health and social care staff can access similar information through NHS OpenAthens.

‘No longer meeting needs of social care community’

SCIE said it had developed a new digital tool to better meet the needs of care professionals.

“The decision to close Social Care Online was announced at the start of last year as it became increasingly clear the service was no longer meeting the needs of the social care community, said Deborah Rozansky, SCIE’s director of policy, research and information.

“Since then, we have conducted extensive research with care professionals to understand the content they need and the best way for them to consume it. This has enabled us to develop a new digital tool, which we hope to launch within the next 12 months. Our aim is to close the workforce knowledge and skills gaps by building care workers’ skills while on the job.”

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