Exploring the contribution of the social work role in CMHTs for working age adults: Service user priorities

Study ID: 35531
Short Title: Service user priorities for the social work role in CMHTs for adults
Organisation: Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
Location: Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
Condition: Mental Health
Main Specialty: Mental Health
Expected End Date: 30/09/2018
Postcode: SO30 3JB
Contact Name: SHFT Research
Contact Email: research@southernhealth.nhs.uk
Active: Yes

Inclusion Criteria

1. Users of community mental health services with experience of being supported by social worker(s)

2. Working-age adults.

Exclusion Criteria

1. Without capacity to consent to participate in the research.

2. Individuals in a crisis situation.

3. Does not speak/understand English language

Study summary:

Social workers are regarded as key members of multidisciplinary community mental health teams (CMHTs), delivering specialist support to people with severe and enduring mental illness. However the CMHT social worker role lacks clear specification. Furthermore, empirical literature describing their work is largely dated, yet the legislation and service landscape has changed significantly in recent years. Additionally, despite a policy emphasis on giving service user perspectives a voice in service design, surprisingly little research has considered their preferences.

This new research therefore aims to explore the contribution and value of social workers in CMHTs from the perspectives of service users and carers. In particular, it asks for the views of service users and carers with experience of being supported by a social worker to consider the most important social worker's skills and responsibilities.

The study comprises four research activities: (1) A Delphi panel consisting of social work experts will review a literature-informed list of social worker values, skills and responsibilities to reach a consensus of what constitutes their distinct contribution to CMHTs. (2) A prioritisation event will seek to review this list from the perspective of participating service users and carers. This will shortlist those social worker contributions of most value to those with lived experiences of support. (3) Qualitative interviews will test and refine a new questionnaire of service user preferences. (4) The final "Best Worst Scaling" (BWS) questionnaire will then be completed by a larger sample of service users.

The research is being supported by a Lay Reference Group comprising seven lay members, to ensure that service user and carer perspectives guide the conduct of the research.

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