Promoting Evidence-Informed Practice

'Evidence is fundamental in social work practice. Social workers use direct observation and evidence from the child, family or others who know them to form an understanding of what is going on. They can use evidence from research to inform their analysis of why any problems are happening and they can use evidence of effectiveness to guide their plans on how to help solve the problems' (Munro 2011).

One of the most commonly cited barriers to using evidence is that social workers (and practice supervisors) are busy. It is important to recognise this, but it is equally important to recognise that this can create a vicious circle… if we feel too busy to learn what to do most effectively, we will always be busy doing things less effectively than we want to.

We owe it to children and families to be as informed as possible. Using evidence to inform practice is an essential part of providing the best possible services we can to children, young people and their families. Appraising the quality, relevance and rigour of research is a skill that supervisors can actively support.

Knowledge Briefing – Enabling evidence-informed practice

This knowledge briefing is written specifically for practice supervisors. It includes key messages from research and practice evidence about:

  • Why evidence-informed practice is important in child and family social work.
  • The different forms of knowledge which social workers draw on to inform their practice and decision making and how learning from these different forms of knowledge can be harnessed by practice supervisors.
  • How practice supervisors can promote evidence-informed practice in supervision discussions.
  • How practice supervisors can build a culture of evidence-informed practice and learning within their teams.

Challenge questions and reflective prompts are included to help you consider how you might use these ideas in your role as practice supervisor.

How evidence-informed are you?

This tool will help you assess your own attitude to evidence-informed practice, talk to your team about research use and plan a sustainable approach to accessing and using research knowledge.

Assessing the applicability of research to work with a family

This tool will help you assess how well research findings, whether from a review or single study, fit with the circumstances and needs of a particular family your team is working with.

Podcast icon Accessing knowledge and current practice on Twitter

Terri Partington, practice supervisor in Oldham talks about the how joining Twitter has helped her to connect with other social work professionals as a community of practice, access research and learn about practice developments nationally.

Digital by default? Thinking about technologies, practice and professional development in social work

It is now common for social workers to use social media both personally and professionally. There are a number of ethical challenges for social workers and practice supervisors to consider in respect of how they use technology in practice. This tool has been designed to help you to reflect on the challenges of using technology ethically in an online world. It also helps you to focus on the benefits of connecting professionally with others online.

Reflective learning for knowledgeable and ethical practice: the key Situation in social work model

The key situation model is a structured reflective learning approach which can be used to support social workers and teams to make professional decisions that are informed by knowledge and ethical principles. This tool outlines the key features of the model alongside guidance about how you can use this approach with your supervisees.

Knowledge sharing in interprofessional teams: a toolkit

Sharing knowledge is a vital part of working out how best to deal with difficult situations where there are few clear answers. You can use this tool to learn more about a series of questions designed to help interprofessional teams share knowledge with one another. The questions are also helpful in promoting knowledge generation in supervision discussions.