Introduction

What is the toolkit?
This web-based tool supports you to find and use research evidence by:

  • Highlighting the factors that influence how and to what extent research evidence is used in service management and planning
  • Providing busy staff with helpful shortcuts to useful sources of research
  • Helping individuals to identify and overcome some of the barriers to Evidence-informed Practice
  • Providing examples of how Evidence-informed Practice has improved outcomes

Who is the toolkit for?
The tool is aimed primarily at social services staff with responsibility for service management and planning, however the guidance it provides will be of use to any individual who wants to make their practice more evidence-informed. By ‘social services staff’ we also all those staff working in the sector, including social care.

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, the tool is for you:

  • Do you need to ensure that the services you commission and deliver are based on the best available evidence of what works?
  • Do you want to strengthen an argument for commissioning, decommissioning or modifying a service?
  • Would you like to have more confidence in understanding and applying research evidence?


How do I use the toolkit?

The toolkit is organised into four general areas of guidance: Acquire, Assess, Adapt and Apply. While these steps follow a logical sequence, they have been designed in a way that allows them to be accessed independently of each other.

In each area you will be asked a number of reflective questions relating to evidence use that will guide you to resources designed to improve your skills and confidence in using evidence in practice.

The vast majority of resources are freely available online. Wherever possible, resources are both recent and aimed at social services managers or practitioners in the UK. Some resources have not been specifically developed for this audience, but nonetheless contain relevant content and transferable messages.

Defining our terms
For the purposes of this toolkit:

  • ‘Research evidence’ is defined as knowledge that has been acquired through a systematic and transparent process of enquiry.
  • 'Evidence' is the information that supports or substantiates research findings.
  • 'Evidence-informed practice’ (EIP) is practice informed by practice wisdom, service user experience, and research evidence. This toolkit focuses on the third aspect of EIP, research evidence.
  • ‘Social services staff’ means all staff working in the sector, including social care.