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Case study – Library services supporting health and social care partnerships

Case study provided by Christine Gallagher, Librarian, NHS Ayrshire & Arran

Project outline: 

We worked in conjunction with NES Knowledge Services as a “pioneer board” with a mapping exercise to identify key social services contacts and discuss how they could use the library service to help inform their practice. A Community of Inquiry workshop was held at Ayr hospital to engage with local and national social services leaders and identify their needs while promoting the importance of library services/information skills for staff at all levels.

Since integration we have adapted our access policies to include social care staff and library membership for social care staff has increased threefold since this work started. We have also purchased relevant social care books to hold at our sites; around 13% of the book stock in three Ayrshire & Arran libraries is specific to this topic.

We have produced several evidence summaries for social work staff on topics such as social isolation in children leaving care and the use of creativity when working with children. These have aided in decision making and helped inform practice. Library staff facilitated local social work events in conjunction with NES staff – East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership held workshops on fun, strengths and relationships which were based on findings of evidence summaries produced by librarians.

Training has been provided to approximately 70 social workers across Ayrshire with further sessions arranged and ongoing support as necessary. Library staff have led information sessions for newly qualified social workers to promote the service and provide literature search/information skills training. We have also worked closely with Social Services Knowledge Scotland (SSKS) staff at NES to highlight national information resources.

Quote from Sue Downie, Learning and Development Adviser, North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership:

“The very valuable ways in which the NHS have been able to support social work practice within the North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership has been as follows:

• Supporting our research skills training by speaking at these sessions, signing participants up with the library and helping them understand how and when to access the library

• Supporting individual social workers who are undertaking post-qualifying training in accessing books and journals article

• Accessing specialist books and journal articles for me in my role as L&D advisor when researching and developing training

• Providing us with very helpful booklets (relevant to the SW role) for specific events that our L&D section holds – especially the SSKS guide ‘Finding evidence to inform your practice: a guide for social workers

And just generally being really helpful and responsive to any library/research type questions I have thrown at them!”

Quote from staff member: 

“This work centred on health and social care integration and the opportunity for NHS Ayrshire & Arran Library Services to examine the service we provide and to adapt to suit the needs of social services – a new user base that may not know how we can support evidence informed practice.”

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