“Testing it in the real world”: Using action research to apply a conceptual framework to social care planning.

Action research was transformative for us as disability researchers and for social care planning with people with complex support needs in Australia.  The participatory approach was a rich experience that allowed us to work in partnership, both conceptually and practically, with the end users of our work.

Our earlier qualitative study with 100 practitioners had surfaced practice challenges in assisting people with disability living with complex social disadvantage to make achievable goals. We hoped that action research, by blending theory and practical knowledge, would enable us to translate what we had learnt about reflective planning practice into a user-friendly resource with broad applicability.

A small group of practitioners joined in deeply thoughtful reflection on their own practice and field testing cycles. The resource we created together shifts conventional practice by showing planning to be a fundamentally relational activity. It calls on practitioners to not only view an individual as being inseparable from their social context, but – here was the truly transformative shift –  to reflect on the role that their own values, skills and attributes plays in building a relationship with that person.

As researchers, we gained so much from entering a reflexive process with practitioners. Our own assumptions about what it would take to improve practice were challenged. In this way, what the resource expected of practitioners was mirrored in the shift we had to make – by making us question our own certainties and reflect on the impact that context had on practitioners themselves. In the process a fundamentally different form of praxis, with the potential to transform knowledge translation, emerged.

Blog post submitted by Susan Collings

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free 30-day access is available for this article beginning 4 June 2018

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