An investigation into evidence-based practice in residential centres in Ireland.
The research topic was an investigation into the use of evidence-based practice (EBP) in mainstream residential centres in Ireland. The expectations on social care workers’ working within Ireland are changing with the anticipated opening of registration for social care workers’ with CORU – The Health and Social Care Professionals Council. One key requirement from CORU is that social care workers both know and understand the basic principles of research, can evaluate interventions and utilize an evidence-informed approach in their work. This study investigated social care practitioners’ experiences of EBP. Owing to the vastness of the sector, the research focussed on the residential child-care sector.The current study focussed on four specific research questions. The first objective was a general enquiry as to workers understanding of evidence-based practice. The focus then moved to the role of EBP within daily work, and how the use of this practice could enhance the effectiveness of social care workers. The third objective explored the factors which inhibit or enable the use of EBP with the final section exploring if workers feel confident to research EBP and to introduce new strategies into their workplace. By exploring EBP from four different angles, this study capturedthe status of EBP in mainstream residential centres in Ireland. The use of a qualitative cross-sectional research design enabled the researcher to address the research topic effectively and to enhance the body of knowledge regarding the use of EBP in mainstream residential care. All participants in the study were willing to engaging in research to source alternative interventions for their young people. However, challenges such as time commitments, the difficulty of maintaining consistency within the team, and the importance of team engagement were highlighted as challenges. There was also a lack of confidence demonstrated by participants in their own capacity to research, evaluate and implement new strategies. There was a difference in the views of managers and workers in the challenges they faced when introducing new work practices. The workers were aware of more specific challenges whereas the managers spoke in a general sense. The workers had introduced EBP’s under the guidance of therapists/social workers in the past. However, workers also stated that they relied on their managers to guide the implementation of new practices. This 2 finding indicates the need for managers to be up to date with new interventions for effective introduction into centres. The wider implication suggests the need for specific continuous professional development for managers regarding the use of interventions, the language of research, and the skills necessary for implementation.The use of EBP was not endemic within the sector, and was driven, not by social care but by external stakeholders. CORU will require social care workers to demonstrate their capacity to know and understand the basic principles of research, to evaluate interventions and to utilize an evidence-informed approach in their work. This research indicates that there is further work to do in this area to develop the capacity of social care workers to achieve this skill.
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