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09:00-12:00 Session 1A: Practice Research Collaboratives seminar: A. Practice Research Impact, Translation & Influence

Organizers: Ilse Julkunen & Lynette Joubert

This thematic group focuses on the complexities of making an impact through the direct translation of research findings on practice and policy. The Practice Collaborative offers an open and collegial discussion space for members to share their experiences, their challenges, successes, as well as failures. The group has organised online seminars and interesting presentations since the Melbourne conference.  We welcome new members. We hope with this Pre-conference program to attract debate and discussion on the experience of developing ‘new knowledge’ in social work practice research, including increased understanding of what ‘impact’ and the translation of practice research findings back into practice really involves.  We will start with a short introduction and open discussion and move on to presentations to inspire further knowledge development in the field.  


Preliminary Program

09.00-10.00  Introduction to the complexities of Impact and Influence

  • A dialogue with Ilse and Lynette
  • Group exercise on impact and implementation in practice research

10.00-10.30  Navigating Complexities in Practice results to Practice by Christa Fouché

10.30-11.00  Pod cast discussions on Impact and Influence by Martin Webber

11.00-11.30  A conversation on Practice Research and Outcomes in PhD studies

11.30-12.00  Where do we go from here?

Ilse Julkunen (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Lynette Joubert (University of Melbourne, Australia)
09:00-12:00 Session 1B: Practice Research Collaboratives seminar: B. System Lens to Social Work Practice

In the first workshop of Systemic Lens we explore different hypotheses: 

Our hypotheses: 

  • WHAT? Systemic practices, including relational practice, and group critical reflection may create resilience for communities and individuals – agency and meaningfulness – as well for the service users. It is the goal of practice research (PR) to show how to carry out systemic practices.
  • HOW? PR should be carried out in a way which creates resilience in the practice and research context. PR should therefore include shared processes of learning, meaning making (knowledge creation) and identity building.
  • WHY? Resilience is an important goal in child welfare services. Workers commonly experience a high emotional load because the context of the work and the lives of children and families are very complex and constantly changing.
  • WHERE? We think that PR builds resilience by working closely with the practitioners and children and families together by strengthening polyphony and multiperspective understanding.
  • ME? We argue that all stakeholders (researchers, practitioners and service users) should try to put themselves into the picture/system.

There will be four papers presented in the seminar and discussions.



09.00–09.30  Welcome! Dr. Laura Yliruka, THL

09.30-10.00  Dr. Erica Russ, Southern Cross University, Australia: A relational-reflective framework for resilience in social work practice  

10.00-10.30  Doctoral project researcher, Natalie Joubert, UEF: Resilience and the shift to cultural competence - early intervention with migrant families in Finland

10.30-11.00  Dr. Liz Reimer, Southern Cross University: Transforming classroom culture to transform self: a co-operative inquiry into overcoming restrictive personal discomfort and interpersonal power dynamics when teaching and learning critical reflection

11.00-11.15  Break

11.15-11.45  Dr. Laura Yliruka & Dr. Kaarina Mönkkönen & Dr. Päivi Petrelius: Towards collaborative, resilience building implementation of systemic practices in Finland

11.45-12.00 Discussion followed by lunch (from 12:00)

Laura Yliruka (THL, Finland)
09:00-12:00 Session 1C: Practice Research Collaboratives seminar: C. Collaboration & Co-creation with Service Users

The aim of the collaborative is to focus on discussing and developing service user participation in practice research. The issue has been touched at all practice research conferences and will be the main topic for this 6th International Conference in Practice Research in Social Work in Aalborg, Denmark. The topic needs ongoing discussions and development. Collaboration and co-creation are central parts of any kind of practice research. The collaboration between researchers and service users can be challenging and contradictory – especially if we include experiences from collaboration between social workers and service users. We are interested in building an international community of practice of collaboration and cocreation with service users in health, mental health, and social services and related areas. The idea of the group is for members to share experience from different regions and projects, to discuss issues, notions, barriers, and possibilities, maybe to write and present together – and naturally to include service users, service user organizations and practitioners in the discussion of the collaboration and co-creation. 

Melissa Petrakis (Monash University, Australia)
Location: K4 (1st floor)
Lars Uggerhøj (Aalborg University, Denmark)
1 - Keynote and Q&A: Thoughts and philosophy behind the involvement of people with lived experiences

ABSTRACT. **coming**

Simon Kroes (St Vincent’s Health Australia, Australia)
Grace McLoughlan (Neami, Australia)
Kevan Myers (St Vincent’s Health Australia, Australia)
Sarah O'Connor (Neami, Australia)
Erin Keily (N/A, Australia)
Melissa Petrakis (Monash University, Australia)
2 - Coproduction with youth service users in a residential mental health service: methodological learnings from implementing a dual diagnosis tool
PRESENTER: Kevan Myers

ABSTRACT. Background: Initial onset of mental health issues predominantly occurs in adolescence. Dual diagnosis – the co-existence of mental health and alcohol and/or other drug (AOD) issues – has been recognised internationally for over 30 years. The current study service setting reported that numerous young people have co-occurring mental health and AOD issues. A lived experience informed/co-designed study explored the service user experience of using the Reasons For Use Package (RFUP) within a youth residential rehabilitation mental health setting.

Methods: Lived experience researchers (those who have lived through mental illness or distress), Master of Social Work students, a community mental health service manager, community mental health researchers, dual diagnosis service researchers, and university-based researchers collaborated on the project. The study used an exploratory, qualitative approach of semi-structured interviews to invite young people's experiences of the resource. A collaborative thematic analysis was conducted by the research team drawing on the range of perspectives.

Results: Five young people were interviewed. Key themes identified were: client factors and extra-therapeutic events, relationship factors, technique/model factors/delivery, and outcomes/things they noticed. Further there were a number of methodological learnings about best-practice processes in co-design and co-production.

Conclusions and implications: The RFUP was a useful clinical tool with the young people, since it improved awareness of reasons for drug use and impact on mental health, service user to staff relationship, quality of the resource, mode of delivery and participant self-knowledge. Young people valued the supportive role that the RFUP played in facilitating positive relationships with their workers.

Liam Buckley (St Vincent’s Health Australia, Australia)
Carmen Raspor (St Vincent’s Health Australia, Australia)
Melissa Petrakis (Monash University, Australia)
3 - Co-designing and co-producing the provision of support during and following inpatient care: Mental health service users and social workers collaborating as allies
PRESENTER: Liam Buckley

ABSTRACT. Purpose: Internationally, in the wake of deinstitutionalisation, there has been a steady move towards recovery-oriented practice in mental health services. People who use mental health services have advocated for changes in service models and structures, and for a greater say in how services are delivered. Recently there has been a move to employ people with lived experience as peer workers; not in lone patient representative roles but as colleagues delivering practice interventions. This is still highly controversial in acute psychiatry. The study aims to share a model and outcomes from the Expanding Post Discharge support Initiatives (EPDI) – peer support workers supporting service users to transition from adult acute inpatient mental health to the community.

Method: Establishing the EPDI involved recruiting peer support workers, gaining training in Mead’s Intentional Peer Support model, and developing processes for monitoring and reporting.

Results: Over 500 people with lived experience of mental illness have received support through EPDI since August 2015. This includes over 4,300 interactions. EPDI has achieved the program aims to reduce unplanned readmission and inpatient length of stay (LOS). It provides enhanced psychosocial focus in multidisciplinary decision making in discharge planning.

Discussion: For people who use services, EPDI has reduced the impact of mental illness and use of inpatient services, increasing self-efficacy, improving practical outcomes in employment, housing and finances, and increased community and social inclusion. Conclusion: Peer workers and social workers can work with people with lived experience of mental illness to achieve positive outcomes and sustained recovery progress, and community connection, reducing social isolation, after acute illness.

Caroline Walters (Monash University, Australia)
Melissa Petrakis (Monash University, Australia)
4 - Mental Health Family Carer Experiences during COVID-19: navigating complexity and diversity within a co-designed and co-produced Australian national study
PRESENTER: Caroline Walters

ABSTRACT. Background: Mental Health Family Carers were a group of people identified as experiencing increased vulnerability arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF), a national voice for mental health consumers and carers in Australia, through a grant from the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) commissioned Social Work Innovation, Transformation and Collaboration in Health (SWITCH) Research Group, Monash University, Australia, to undertake a research project in 2021-2022. The aim was to develop an evidence base on mental health carer experiences, distress and unmet needs during the COVID-19 pandemic across Australia.

Methods: Using a co-design and co-production methodology, the university partner worked with a Research Project Steering Group (PSG), conducting two methods of data collection: 7 co-facilitated focus groups (73 participants) and online surveys (190 people commenced and 101 completed).

Results: Establishing a PSG from the commencement of the project and the inclusion of members in designing, conducting the research, and analysing the data, resulted in data that was enriched with the voice of families. Further to this, reflection on the process led to key learnings regarding working collaboratively with carers and consumers within national and state organisations representing mental health carers, as well as organisations with lived experience membership from regional, rural and remote, culturally and linguistically diverse people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands communities. Innovative methods of engagement were used to undertake this research in an online environment across distance.

Conclusions: Key learnings included how to, navigate complexity in co-design and co-production of a national data collection study – collaborating with carers, consumers, academia and service providers – to gain insights into the complexity and diversity of family caring experiences, resources and unmet needs, with recommendations to further embed ways to make sustainable differences for family carers. These will be presented at the conference.

Maj Nygaard-Christensen (Aarhus University, Denmark)
5 - Service journeys in research with structurally vulnerable people who use drugs

ABSTRACT. The paper presents findings from ongoing research with unstably housed and structurally vulnerable people in the Danish welfare system. The paper examines the use of ‘service journeys’ as a tool to produce detailed mappings of the barriers research participants experience in terms of access to key services. Examples may be a homeless man who uses drugs and urgently needs access to medication, or a woman at a drop-in centre needing to receive or renew digital identification. While ideally, such service journeys would be relatively straightforward or linear, mappings instead revealed complex geographical journeys involving multiple actors and services and often serendipitous encounters with service professionals and competing pressing agendas. The paper will present select cases and discuss the methodological implications of using service journeys as a tool to work with populations whose perspectives and experiences are often not included, because they are considered hard to reach. The paper builds on a broader, collaborative research project on ‘poverty work’, a term employed to capture the resources and strategies required to navigate the Danish welfare system for people on a very low – or no – income.

09:00-12:00 Session 1D: Practice Research Collaboratives seminar: D. Organisational Supports for Practice Research

This seminar provides a space for practice researchers to (a) reflect upon evolving definitions of organizational supports for practice research and (b) engage in critical dialogue about opportunities and challenges when engaging in practice research studies with key frontline, management and organizational partners. It focuses upon the following key questions:

  • How are “organizational supports” for practice research understood?
  • Which organizational supports are most important for supporting collaborative projects involving diverse stakeholders?
  • What are some examples of practice research projects that feature the importance of organizational supports?  

The first component of the seminar explores a set of working definitions of organizational supports for practice research. The second component provides space for a comparative international perspective (Asia and the Nordic countries). The third component invites participants to engage in a “workshop” by sharing their experiences with organizational supports for conducting practice research.



Component # 1: 9-10 am

  • Welcome and Introductions (Mike Austin, USA)
  • Session Theme: How do we build a definition of “organizational support” for practice research that features the key stakeholders of practitioners, service users, and researchers?
    • Discussion for clarifying and suggesting basic aspects of “organizational support” using illustrative definitions (handout), especially with service users

Component #2: 10-11am (Bowen McBeath, USA & Heidi Muurinen, Finland)

  •  Session Theme: How can we build an archive of cases based upon organizational storytelling that features the launching of practice research projects with organizational supports?
    • Using a modified fishbowl technique where two practice researchers share their experiences in launching practice research collaborations
      • Researcher-initiated practice research (China)
      • Practitioner-initiated practice research (Finland)
    • Engage in follow-up questions on organizational supports and key stakeholder involvement that compares/contrasts their respective experiences 

Component #3: 11am-12pm (Sidsel Natland, Norway)

  • Session Theme: How do we support each other in developing research that advances the basic theme of organizational supports for practice research based on ideas generated in previous sessions, especially the involvement of service users?
    • Using a peer consultation approach, conference attendees will be divided into small discussion groups to share their current experiences with practice research
    • The facilitator of each group will then briefly share highlights of the group discussions in the closing session of this pre-conference Practice Research Collaborative
    • Future publication strategies will also be shared 
Sidsel Natland (Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway)
09:00-12:00 Session 1E: Practice Research Collaboratives seminar: E. Diversity in Family Work

This collaborative has just been launched and focus will be on discussing the description below together with the future possibilities and activities in the collaborative.

This collaborative promotes social work practice research on diversity with families at micro, meso, exo- and macro-levels, both locally and internationally.

Embracing diversity in working with families is essential. Issues related to race, sexuality, religion and spirituality, class, abilities and many more dimensions impact the processes and outcomes of working with families in different contexts. This collaborative focuses on the impact of diversity from the person of the social workers, client characteristics and lived experiences, and organizational and governmental policies in different milieu.

Families that are considered diverse in relation to their ethnicity, nationality, religiosity, sexuality and so on are often under-served or misappropriately served by mainstream social work professionals who may not appreciate their diverse backgrounds and experiences. Moreover, these families may be marginalized due to national or organizational policies, and social workers may be constrained by these policies and procedures. This collaborative will begin by appraising relevant research and/or policies related to diversity in social work, particularly with a focus on working with families that are diverse. For a start, the collaborative will focus on selected areas of diversity (e.g., ethnicity or sexuality) given the wide spectrum of diversity over a period of 12 months (after the 6th ICPR) and may develop practice research questions for further exploration.  

This collaborative is initiated by Dr. Timothy SIM, Associate Professor at Singapore University of Social Sciences. After about two decades of focusing on disaster management internationally, Tim returned to Singapore in 2021 and his passion of working with families, particularly those who experience addictions, incarceration and violence, which are often over-represented by ethnic minority groups and those living with multi-challenges in life.    

The discussions will be led by DR. Timothy SIM, Associate Professor at Singapore University of Social Sciences

Timothy Sim (Singapore University of Social Sciences, Singapore)
Location: P3 (15th floor)
12:00-13:00Lunch (only for participants who registered for a collaborative seminar)
13:00-14:00 Session 2: Conference opening session

13:00-13:30 Opening address by conference chair and prof. Lars Uggerhøj, Aalborg University

13:30-13:40 Musical performance by Luka Dgebuadze and Mads Houe

13:40-14:00 Round-off and introducing the first keynote speaker by Lars Uggerhøj

Lars Uggerhøj (Aalborg University, Denmark)
14:00-15:00 Session 3: Keynote Address: Vishanthie Sewpaul
Lars Uggerhøj (Aalborg University, Denmark)
Vishanthie Sewpaul (University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa)
Emancipatory, Ubuntu Based Research and Ethics in Action: From Pain, Marginalization and Vulnerability to Empowerment, Change and Advocacy

ABSTRACT. The 2020-2030 Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development framework is: Co-building inclusive social transformation, with the first 2020-2022 theme being: Ubuntu: Strengthening Social Solidarity and Global Connectedness. Aligned with the framework is the 2022-2024 theme: Co-building an eco-social world: Leaving no one behind.

The People’s Charter for an Eco-social World, an outcome of the Global People’s Summit held between 29 June and 2 July 2022, details a utopian world that we envision and bringing all people on board to co-create that world based on Ubuntu value premises.

In this presentation, I elucidate what these values constitute, and reduce rarefied abstraction to application by demonstrating how they have influenced praxis-oriented research at the local level in the South African context. I present examples of community based projects describing participatory research and practice with people living in marginalised and vulnerable positions, and the power of emancipatory, Ubuntu based relationships - and mindfulness in ensuring that our identities as experts do not betray us - in them shifting from the margins to the centre in dealing with complex life challenges such as HIV/AIDS, homelessness and suicide.

15:00-15:30Coffee break
15:30-17:00 Session 4A: SYMPOSIUM: Collaboration with practitioners and service users in mental health social work practice research in the UK: challenges and new directions
Martin Webber (University of York, UK)
Location: P3 (15th floor)
Martin Webber (University of York, UK)
Beth Casey (University of York, UK)
1 - Supported volunteering at Ripon Museums: 'De-researchifying' research processes and methods in a sensitive way
PRESENTER: Martin Webber

ABSTRACT. Background and purpose: Supported volunteering provides a way for people who require additional support to access volunteering opportunities. However, limited research has been conducted on supported volunteering so we do not know enough about how, and if, it might help people. This paper explores how the qualitative methods used for an evaluation of supported volunteering at Ripon museums in the UK were adapted to encourage participation. Methods: Participants had the opportunity to choose how they participated in the research. This included having a conversation with a researcher about their experience of support (rather than more formal interviews); being observed by a researcher being supported; or completing an audio or written diary about their experiences. The methodological approach taken in this study was informed by volunteers with mental health problems and staff providing the support within the museums. Results: The paper will reflect on the ‘sensitive’ research approach taken; the use and experience of participating in different methods; and comparisons between the data produced. The resulting guide to supported volunteering will be presented to illustrate how lived experience can inform both the research process and products emerging from the research. Conclusions and implications: The paper will conclude with practical considerations and the researchers’ reflections on the methods used.

Kayonda Ngamaba (University of York, UK)
Martin Webber (University of York, UK)
2 - Implementing Connecting People in community mental health teams: good co-design but poor implementation
PRESENTER: Kayonda Ngamaba

ABSTRACT. Background: Mental health services in the UK experience high demand and long waiting lists. People are often discharged back to primary care when acute crises have passed, so the opportunity to use social interventions to assist their recovery can be brief. Connecting People is a social intervention which practitioners can use to support a person to (re-)engage with their local community, though its implementation in community mental health teams was found to be limited in a previous pilot study. Methods: An implementation toolkit was co-designed with practitioners and service users to support the full implementation of Connecting People in community mental health teams. This included practice guidance, a training manual, an implementation manual and a service user leaflet. The use of the toolkit was evaluated in a pre-post controlled quasi-experimental study. Service users were interviewed at baseline (n=151) and at six-month follow-up (n=127). Results: Six-month follow-up data was available for 127 participants, and their outcome and cost data were analysed on an intention-to-treat basis. Analysis of primary and secondary outcome variables found no differences between the intervention and control groups. The economic evaluation found no significant differences between groups in mean costs or outcomes. Conclusion and implications: The co-designed toolkit was widely appreciated and positively evaluated by practitioners and service users alike. However, due to operational pressures and the dominance of medical and psychological interventions, social workers found it challenging to implement Connecting People. To give social interventions a chance to succeed, it is necessary to challenge professional hierarchies in mental health services and provide opportunities for full engagement in social work practice research.

Laura Tucker (University of York, UK)
Martin Webber (University of York, UK)
3 - Supporting unpaid carers during leave from detention: good intentions but poor implementation
PRESENTER: Laura Tucker

ABSTRACT. Background and purpose: A previous practice research project found that unpaid carers were infrequently involved in decisions about leave for people they care for who are detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983 in England. In response, this project developed and evaluated a 10-item ‘Standard’ to address the exclusion of carers from decisions about leave under s.17 MHA. This was primarily targeted at inpatient wards, but also aimed to engage with community mental health and voluntary sector support services for unpaid carers. Methods: The Standard was co-designed by carers and practitioners in a qualitative study involving interviews, focus groups and workshops. It was then piloted in six sites in a pre-post controlled quasi-experimental study. Qualitative and quantitative data was obtained through structured and semi-structured interviews. Results: This paper will present the findings of the study. These indicate that implementation of the Standard on inpatient wards was poor, due to work pressures and carers not being seen as a priority for inpatient staff in the context of limited resources. Although co-designed by carers and practitioners, the Standard does not appear to be a quick solution to the problem of supporting carers. Conclusion and implications: Power differentials within mental health services determine the priorities for limited resources. Unpaid carers are often on the periphery and their voices and seldom heard, meaning that their needs are seldom met. Understanding the barriers presented by this power imbalance hints at solutions to the problem, though additional resources and changes within services are required to overcome them.

Cheyann Heap (University of York, UK)
Martin Webber (University of York, UK)
4 - Community-enhanced social prescribing: collaborating with a local community to enhance social prescribing
PRESENTER: Cheyann Heap

ABSTRACT. Background and purpose: Social prescribing has been introduced throughout primary care and other statutory services in England to connect people with wellbeing needs to community and voluntary sector services. It is largely uni-directional (from the statutory to the voluntary sector) with no additional resources or concomitant capacity building. The Community-Enhanced Social Prescribing (CESP) model was developed from two existing approaches (Connected Communities and Connecting People) to embed community development within a social capital intervention model for social prescribing linkworkers in order to address this. Methods: The feasibility of CESP is being evaluated in a multi-method study which includes a pre-post controlled quasi-experimental study exploring individual and community-level outcomes; qualitative interviews and a process evaluation. The study is being conducted in a community setting in Sale, Greater Manchester, where the social prescribing linkworkers are employed by a voluntary sector agency, BluSCI. Findings: This paper will report the emerging findings from the project. Collaboration with local residents via a ‘community panel’ which is responsible for mapping community assets; engaging with voluntary and statutory agencies working in the community; and collaborating with the linkworkers throughout the study is essential to its success. Conclusion and implications: Working with members of the local community and providers of local wellbeing services reveals how power differentials impede effective action. Bringing them together within the context of the CESP model has the potential to produce modest change within the local community and enhance the work of the social prescribing link workers.

15:30-17:00 Session 4B: SYMPOSIUM: Practice Research Education: Collaborative Reflections on Practice Research Capstone Seminars by Social Work Educators and Students
Hyekyung Choo (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Location: P1 (15th floor)
Hyekyung Choo (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
1 - Practice Research Capstone Seminar: Positioning Practice Research Modules in Social Work Education

ABSTRACT. The practice-research divide is common in social work education. While entry-level social work curriculums consist of mostly practice-oriented courses, graduate research programs – Master by Research and PhD – are for training students to be social work researchers in and for academia. Furthermore, the majority of social work research method modules aim to make students either critical consumers of academic research on social work or academic researchers in social work. However, a Master of Social Work (MSW) program by coursework is a natural and optimal setup where practice research – integration of practice and research – can materialize by systematic facilitation: it is where practicing social workers who are now students and academic researchers who are instructors meet in order to advance the students’ practice knowledge and skills for improving their services. The 2018-2019 revamp of the MSW program at the National University of Singapore introduced Practice Research Capstone Seminars to MSW students. Through two capstone seminar modules in sequence over two semesters, each student is required to complete a practice research project. Since 2019, 27 MSW students from four cohorts of the capstone seminar have completed their practice research projects. This presentation illustrates and discusses how practice research capstone seminars meet the overall pedagogical goals of the MSW program, strategies that support students to conduct practice research, the expected and unexpected advantages and disadvantages of the capstone seminar format, and most importantly, implications and considerations for development of practice research modules at the Master’s level in social work education.

Jungup Lee (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
2 - Key Challenges and Opportunities Arising in Graduate Students’ Practice Research Projects: Focusing on Ethics Review and Data Collection

ABSTRACT. During a year-long practice research (PR) journey, students have faced various issues. Particularly, preparing applications for ethics review and securing agencies’ support for participant recruitment and data collection have emerged as some key challenges. As most students are working in social service agencies (e.g., family service centre, youth centre, and hospital), their PR has targeted the service users, who are often considered as vulnerable groups as research participants by ethics review boards, and/or social service practitioners. They also have investigated sensitive research topics such as low-income families and homeless people. Thus, students must prepare ethics review materials carefully. In some cases, they need to prepare applications for ethics review by two institutions – one for University IRB and the other for their workplace or government ethics review committee. Due to the limited time period, it is critical for the instructor to guide students to manage all required application materials in a timely manner. Moreover, agencies’ support to the students’ PR is a key resource. Some agencies are supportive to their student practitioner’s PR by helping with recruitment and data collection, sharing agency documents or existing data, and contributing some budget towards participants’ reimbursement. Notably, agencies’ support for interviews with service users or practitioners can be instrumental in avoiding conflicts of research interests and protecting confidentiality of participants. Consequently, lack of support from agencies may amplify difficulties in data collection. This presentation will discuss the key issues that most students have faced and potential opportunities they have learned through their PR experience.

Esther C L Goh (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
3 - Analyzing and interpreting small sample qualitative data with students: Making the most of it

ABSTRACT. Qualitative methods of data collection are highly popular among Master of Social Work (MSW) students’ practice research projects which are conducted as part of graduation requirements. The open-ended nature of data generated by qualitative methods allowed novice researchers to explore research questions which stemmed from their practice and gain initial insights into their work. Besides, the heuristic limitation of time due to the fixed timeframe for completion within two semesters land small sample size qualitative interviews, usually between 5 and 12 participants, or focused group discussions of 5 or fewer members, which are the common data collection modes. Qualitative method data collection, though labour intensive, is relatively unchallenging to most MSW students who are trained social workers and hence, skilled in asking questions and listening. Less known to most students is the challenge in data analysis. Many are at risk of performing merely literal or superficial readings of the 5 or 12 sets of transcripts. Such cursory reading of the rich data collected might render the findings dull and of little value, reporting only the obvious. The gem of the qualitative data can only be accessed through skillful and careful examination through interpretive and reflective readings. The role of the instructor is crucial in challenging the students to refrain from staying on the surface. It is important for the instructor to bracket-in (not bracket-out), utilizing her own practice experience to guide students to go deeper into interpretive reading and reflective reading of the data.

Geok Ling Lee (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Corinne Ghoh (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
4 - Disseminating findings and dialogues with stakeholders: Beyond engaging the practitioner self
PRESENTER: Corinne Ghoh

ABSTRACT. Dissemination of findings is an essential element in the process of practice research. In the process of making sense of the findings, application of the findings in the practice context is the key focus, and must be addressed instead of merely focusing on the perspectives of knowledge, research or interest. Opportunities were created as part of the course requirements when Master of Social Work (MSW) students were asked to invite and present their findings to potential stakeholders, including service providers and service users. Most of the MSW students are trained social workers and have several years of practice. As such, they are able to engage the “practitioner self” in the process of disseminating findings, making good use of their practice, wisdom, and intuition. What is challenging to them is the need to adopt a “findings-in-environment” perspective too when disseminating findings. Many are at risk of viewing the findings from their practice lens and are less attuned to the socio-political environmental lens. The role of the educator is to facilitate the student’s awareness of the need to take ethical and political considerations into account when reporting. The hopeful result is that through creating a trusting dialogue with stakeholders, constructive actions are possible to address complex issues using a collective approach.

Diana Ong Sze Shun (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
5 - Pain and Pleasure of Conducting Practice Research: Reflection from a Master of Social Work Student

ABSTRACT. Prior to the capstone modules as a pre-requisite for the completion of a Master’s level programme, I had limited experience conducting a piece of research. The process of completing my first practice research study has been fulfilling and rewarding both as a student and practitioner under the guidance of an Academic Professor. The collaborative aspect of the research offers a professional perspective of a novice’s work. The frequent consultation was beneficial to refine, streamline and integrate data gathered from the service users and translate these data into valuable insights to improve the programme. Additionally, I learned the full suite of conducting a piece of practice research, expanding my knowledge, and learning to be more inquisitive, critical, and reflective in the process. This opportunity to learn was an immeasurable experience despite the tight timeline for completion of the study, amidst the peak of the pandemic locally.

15:30-17:00 Session 4C: THEMATIC SESSION: 3.1 - Connections, Diversities and Controversies between Social Work Research and Policymakers, Practitioners, Service Users
Kirsten Mejlvig (Aalborg University, Denmark)
Kathryn Turner (The University of Melbourne, Australia)
Person or Plan: An exploratory study of post-treatment care for people living with cancer from a clinical health social work perspective.

ABSTRACT. A cancer diagnosis becomes one of chronic illness as many people must adjust to an ongoing and long-term health threat. Many people experience significant psychosocial barriers to returning to their pre-morbid level of functioning post-treatment, with some facing life-long social disadvantage consequently. In a context of increased social vulnerability and psychosocial distress that may persist, timely access to supportive psychosocial care resources is important to coping and readjustment. There are several issues that are problematic for survivorship planning, with a realignment of practice potentially warranted. While clinical health social workers are well placed to provide follow up care in treatment settings, the lived experience, views and preferences of consumers in engaging with this care are not extensively explored or described. This research project references the Victorian Government’s Cancer Services Framework; follow up care is a key service in the provision of supportive care, informing the context for clinical health social work practice. Preliminary investigation has sought to focus and clarify choices of practice research techniques. A scoping review and clinical data mining function together identify current theory, debates and tensions for survivorship planning and care. The current phase of this project aims to build on the findings of the scoping review, utilising a clinical data mining tool, with a retrospective case audit (N = 100) proposed. Critical concerns for stakeholders, including how they might define themselves in relation to survivorship, must be further explored. Stakeholder input is key in informing the future goal of developing clinical guidelines that are evidence-informed.

Nanne Isokuortti (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Understanding complex implementation in social services: findings from a process evaluation of the Systemic Practice Model in Finland

ABSTRACT. Background: Achieving change in a complex implementation environment such as child protection services is demanding. However, implementation research can provide a better understanding of how and why interventions work in different contexts and the extent to which their outcomes can be improved. This presentation synthesizes findings from a process evaluation, i.e., a comprehensive analysis of implementation process, of the Systemic Practice Model (SPM) in Finland. The SPM is an adaptation of the Reclaiming Social Work model, which aims to improve quality of service by delivering systemic practice in children’s social care.

Methods: Qualitative data was collected from various stakeholders at the system, organization, practitioner, and service user levels.

Results: The analyses found complex linkages between implementation outcomes and influencing factors at different levels. Essentially, challenges related to the Finnish adaptation and its national implementation strategy potentially contributed to high variation in the delivery of trainings and fidelity to the SPM across implementation sites. Although practitioners felt positive about the model, barriers to apply it in practice seemed to weaken their motivation to change. Subsequently, fidelity assessment indicated limited changes in practice.

Conclusions: Given that process evaluations aim to provide in-depth understanding of change efforts in practice, they can offer valuable information to policy and practice stakeholders and aid implementation in complex service systems. Possibilities and challenges related to collaboration between researchers, practice stakeholders and innovation developers in change efforts are discussed. In conclusion, the results indicate that careful preparation, ongoing support, and active collaboration are crucial in future implementation.

Emma Tseris (University of Sydney, Australia)
Using creativity and dialogue to create ripples of system change

ABSTRACT. Background: It is well-known that mental health services frequently deliver poor or disappointing outcomes for service users. The critical literature has also identified significant human rights violations within acute mental health services, but achieving genuine system change is extremely challenging. Drawing on feminist theory, this study explored the first-person accounts of women with experiences of involuntary mental health treatment, while also drawing upon the perspectives of family/friends, mental health workers, and the general public.

Methods: Within a participatory methodology, including interviews, action research groups, and arts-based research, the project has enabled dialogue between survivors of psychiatric coercion, mental health workers, family/friends, and the general public. This approach has illuminated shared concerns about the adverse and dehumanising impacts of carceral responses to distress, while also requiring attention to significant power differentials and diverse social locations.

Results: Women experience many forms of gendered coercion within involuntary mental health services, which often exacerbate rather than alleviate distress. There is an urgent need to centre survivor voices in developing alternatives to carceral mental health treatment. Through creative practices, the project has demonstrated the benefits of questioning the constraints of biomedical, neoliberal, and risk-averse thinking in order to re-imagine responses to distress and difference, while also moving beyond the limitations of policy tweaks or rhetorical commitments to social justice. Through dialogue across diverse perspectives, the study has attempted to subvert the limitations of traditional academic scholarship and silos in mental health research, instead highlighting opportunities for consciousness-raising, system reform, increased community understandings, and social change.

Kristin Diemer (University of Melbourne, Australia)
Cathy Humphreys (University of Melbourne, Australia)
David Gallant (University of Melbourne, Australia)
Programs for men who use violence against female intimate partners: realistic expectations and evaluation models
PRESENTER: Kristin Diemer

ABSTRACT. Programs for men who use violence against their female intimate partners have been controversial and under scrutiny for proof of effectiveness for many years. Since 2008 our university-based research team has partnered with service agencies and government policy makers to evaluate these programs at both the service delivery level and wider system level. We have evaluated many different program types using participatory evaluation methods and triangulation techniques including service users, practitioners, and government policymakers. While safety and ethics are always an issue when involving service users in research and evaluation, there are additional complex concerns surrounding programs addressing violence against women. In these scenarios it is important to ensure men who use violence are not rewarded, women and children are protected, and researchers do collude with the service users. Measuring whether men in these programs have taken responsibility for their actions and exhibit change in their behaviour is particularly challenging while maintaining privacy and confidentiality to both the men, their female partners and their children. The researchers will speak about their methods of conducting this research and defining realistic and measurable change to inform policy and practice.

15:30-17:00 Session 4D: THEMATIC SESSION: 2.1 - Challenges and Possibilities in Collaborations between Partners - Service Users, Practitioners, Researchers etc.
Mette Rømer (Department of Sociology and Social Work, Denmark)
Location: K4 (1st floor)
Janice Chisholm (Eastern Health Mental Health Service, Australia)
Melissa Petrakis (Monash University, Australia)
Peer worker perspectives regarding recovery-oriented practice in a public mental health service
PRESENTER: Janice Chisholm

ABSTRACT. Background: Recovery-oriented practice (ROP) is a framework that focusses on recovery through hope, choice, and meaning, living with or without enduring symptoms and challenges, not necessarily associated with a treatment regime. Methods: Peer workers engaged in a focus group, provided with opportunity to review questions prior and come prepared with any ideas and answers. Results: ROP seen as the way forward for peer workers with numerous ideas and suggestions to make it possible. Results suggest recovery language, peer workers as leaders, changes in clinical staff attitudes to value personal recovery as important, and organisational changes are required in the implementation of ROP. Themes indicated structural and individual barriers and facilitators. Power imbalances, organisational structure, stigma and inequity prevented the ease of implementation. On an individual level, there was a need for active listening, positive regard, and recognition of uniqueness in peer workers, recognising them as experts in their own lives. Some of the supportive values that were identified were hope, inclusive practice and collaboration. Conclusions: Peer workers identified several important aspects for success in the implementation of ROP at Eastern Health Mental Health Service. The results demonstrated that the views of peer workers are potentially valuable in the implementation of ROP. Peer workers add lived experience and can conceivably contribute to clinician uptake and practice of ROP. The lived experience of peer workers contribute to a service’s implementation, and clinician uptake, of ROP. The study contributes to increasing evidence that encourages the adoption of peer workers in mental health services.

Christine Chua (KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Singapore)
Judith Chew (KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Singapore)
Winnie Lim (KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Singapore)
Perhaps… Maybe: Embracing the grey area in a hospital practice research project
PRESENTER: Christine Chua

ABSTRACT. This paper reflects on a local experience of conducting practice-research (PR) within a pediatric hospital in Singapore. It focuses on the collaboration and co-creation of knowledge not only with service-users but within a team of social work practitioners. The PR project was a qualitative inquiry into the challenges living with eczema and the support needs from the perspective of parents. All study team members were social work practitioners from the same department with varying degrees of practice experience, of which two had formal research training and experience. In this paper, we explore how the PR project contributed to a shift in our ideas about service-users and practice. For instance, practitioners may have more ‘need’ of service-users that the reverse, thus highlighting the importance for practitioners to recognise this and the underlying sense of discomfort it could evoke. We also reflect on encountering grey areas of uncertainty. The first was encountered when working on data analysis with and as a team of seven. The second was when the line between interviewer and interviewee seemed blurred – when service-users crossed boundaries by interviewing themselves. Perhaps and maybe, knowledge co-creation happens in those magical moments when practice-researcher curiosity meets service-user curiosity. The ‘sweet spot’ when service-users become curious about themselves during the process. We summarise the reflection to discuss how embracing grey areas can both complicate and enrich the process of knowledge co-creation and have the potential to transform the way we do and think about doing practice.

Miriam Landsman (University of Iowa, United States)
Kellee Thorburn McCrory (University of Iowa, United States)
Building a Practice Research Collaboration with Peer Support Specialists
PRESENTER: Miriam Landsman

ABSTRACT. Background

Service users’ voices are conspicuously absent from social work research, even as practitioner-research collaborations flourish. Inclusivity brings urgency to service users’ expertise. The emergence and growth of peer support specialists in behavioral health, nationally and internationally, is an important development (Gagne et al., 2018). Peers bring lived experience with mental illness, helping others toward stability and recovery through a deep understanding of shared struggles (Byrne et al., 2019). We discuss a practice-research effort highlighting peers (service users).

Main points

The Iowa Peer Workforce Collaborative (IPWC) is a collaboration between the University of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services in the United States. IPWC is developing the peer workforce through training, increasing agencies’ capacity to grow this workforce, and measuring progress toward outcomes. IPWC employs peers, university faculty, and staff to provide training and technical assistance. Peers, people with lived experience with mental illness and living well in recovery, are involved in all training content, implementation, and evaluation discussions.

Connection to conference

The presentation resonates with multiple sub-themes. We address challenges and possibilities in collaborations, power differentials, and ethical issues in service user-researcher-practitioner partnerships. We discuss methodologies for service users’ participation in research components. Finally, the work is grounded in empowerment theory, which informs practice and research.


Including service users as vital partners in practice-research collaborations increases the relevance, utility, and accuracy of social work initiatives. We discuss areas of future research, including a study of peer workforce turnover and retention.

Sanna Simonsson (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway)
Edgar Marthinsen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway)
Anne Moe (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway)
Co-creation off track. A study of co-creation's travel from idea to reality
PRESENTER: Sanna Simonsson

ABSTRACT. Aim: Ideas concerning co-creation in public welfare production are relatively new, and how these plays out in practice is still an area where further exploration is needed. This article examines co-creation as a concern of processual re-structuring of public sector with a focus on knowledge-integration and how this challenges the institutional logics of an organization while studying the conditions for co-creation in development of public welfare services. Leaning on theories of organizational learning, this article is a contribution in the terrain of co-creation as a theoretical ideal and practical reality.

Methods: Through a three year-long formative dialogue study, we have gained unique insight into factors impacting co-creation processes in organizational change. The study is set in an ongoing project seeking to apply co-creation with both users, employees and researchers as a method for development of new practices in a Norwegian municipality. The data is based on participative observation where we have followed the day-to-day processes since 2019 and taken part in over 100 meetings. Observations have been supplemented with qualitative interviews.

Results and discussion: The study adds to the existing knowledge that there are some significant barriers to overcome if co-creation is to be realized. The project seems to suffer under a disinclination towards the changes co-creation involves, and the co-creative processes got stalled after the project took a turn towards a traditional top-down arrangement. The conditions for co-creation will be discussed with reference to different understandings of knowledge and organizational barriers.

15:30-17:00 Session 4E: THEMATIC SESSION: 2.2 - Challenges and Possibilities in Collaborations between Partners - Service Users, Practitioners, Researchers etc.
Sara Serbati (University of Padova, Italy)
Heidi Muurinen (Finnish institute for health and welfare, Finland)
Pekka Karjalainen (Finnish institute for health and welfare, Finland)
Eeva Liukko (Finnish institute for health and welfare, Finland)
A national pilot study on three practice models – possibilities and challenges for practice research
PRESENTER: Heidi Muurinen

ABSTRACT. This presentation describes a practice research project in which researchers at the Finnish institute for health and welfare and professionals from 14 wellbeing services counties collaborate to create, pilot, and evaluate programme theories for three practice models. These practice models concern 1) social rehabilitation services, 2) low-threshold counselling and assistance and 3) outreach social work.

The initial programme theories were created based on three expert interviews and two collaborative workshop discussions in spring 2022. Meanwhile, a national evaluation research was designed and planned in close collaboration. As part of the project, the participating professionals are encouraged to conduct their own practitioner research to describe and evaluate the implementation process on a local level.

The ongoing national research analyses the outcomes of the practice models and in what conditions these outcomes were reached, and how the implementation of the core components succeeded. The national data is collected from the counties piloting the practice models during autumn 2022 to spring 2023. The data consists of 20 group interviews with professionals and three with clients in social rehabiltation. In their own practitioner research projects, the professionals may use EUROHIS-Qol 8-item index and a shared client feedback form or collect data of their own.

The presentation explores the preliminary results on the program theories, impementation and outcomes of the three practice models. Also, the experiences, possibilities, and challenges of conducting national research along with practitioner research are discussed.

Jie Hui Pek (South Central Community Family Service Centre Ltd, Singapore)
Denise Liu (formerly South Central Community Family Service Centre Ltd, Singapore)
Community Involvement in Casework Interventions: The Boons and The Banes (A Qualitative Study)

ABSTRACT. Casework and community work have become increasingly dichotomous in practice, partly due to the professionalisation of social work. Recognising this, South Central Community Family Service Centre (SCC), a community-based social service agency (SSA) in Singapore, believes that social workers should adopt Community-Centric Practices (CCP) in casework, involving service users and other community members to collaboratively address the needs of casework service users through forging relationships and partnerships alongside the community. This research study examines the challenges and enablers towards adopting CCP.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 social workers and community workers before they were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. Notably, in the research team, a researcher provided insight in methodology while two social workers offered insight in the clinical aspects of casework. The three members were in constant negotiation of power in deciding the research direction, methodology and thematic analysis through multiple discussions.

Our findings show that the challenges of adopting CCP include the practical and mental constraints of workers, receptiveness of service users towards community connections and institutional barriers surrounding confidentiality and accountability of risk. The enablers include existing relationships between community members, collaborative rapport between worker and casework service users and the worker’s active role in forging community connections.

At the agency level, the findings have informed the development of a CCP guide for workers, and the documentation of narratives of social workers and community members partnering in casework. At the sectoral level, clearer guidelines are required for SSAs' management of confidentiality and risk.

Heidi Lie Eriksen (University of Stavanger, Norway)
Safety as a mantra in social workers' field placement supervision?

ABSTRACT. In Norway there is a concern when it comes to how social work students are being supervised during field placements. Social workers in the field with different competence in supervision are handled the responsibility for the students, but we know little about the quality (Kunnskapsdepartementet, 2012). As a part of my Ph.D.-study I have investigated what field instructors' / supervisors focus on in supervisory conversations with social work students and I would like to raise a discussion about supervision and the development of qualification for professional practice. My study is qualitative, and I have interviewed eight field instructors about their attention in their own supervision activities. Interviews are analyzed according to a dialogical analysis method (Sullivan, 2012). My findings show that the field instructors emphasize safety as an essential basis for learning during the internship period. Still, there is variation in the safety-creating work. I critically shed light on how a safety mantra can have unforeseen consequences for the students' learning outcomes during the field placement period. This issue concerns what field instructors direct their attention to when supervising social work students, and what implications this attention can have for students' professional qualification.

15:30-17:00 Session 4F: THEMATIC SESSION: 5.1 - Methodologies and Service Users' Empirical Participation in Practice Research
Bowen McBeath (Portland State University, United States)
Tavee Cheausuwantavee (Ratchasuda College, Mahidol University, Thailand)
Chinapong Kraisingsom (Ratchasuda College, Mahidol University, Thailand)
Ratirot Chansomdee (Ratchasuda College, Mahidol University, Thailand)
Development of community based rehabilitation in Thailand through PAR: Case study in rural area

ABSTRACT. Background and purpose Since little is known about a comprehensive community based rehabilitation (CBR) project should be conducted based on appropriate methodology and significant independent variables as qualifications of CBR workers. Thus, this study aims to explore a comprehensive CBR project based on particular method and CBR workers.

Methods This study is participatory action research (PAR). The one rural community in Suphanburi Province, Thailand was purposively selected. The participants were purposively recruited with particular characteristics of CBR workers suggested by previous studies such as key stakeholders, suitable age, attitudes towards PWDs. Finally, there were 19 participants of study including medical personnel, community leaders, social worker, teachers, labour development personnel, community volunteers, persons with disabilities(PWDs) and researchers. Verbatim of focus groups, participatory observations and field notes were undertaken. Those data were interpreted through thematic coding and analytic induction.

Results PAR was still contributive strategy for CBR development in terms of consciousness raising, collaboration, holistic understanding of CBR. Suitable qualifications of CBR workers particularly strong participation of professionals and community leaders will be also key success of CBR project. However, uncompleted PAR and CBR cycles, no more sectors of stakeholders and particular services with only health domain of CBR were limitations and challenges.

Conclusions and implications This study proves that PAR with significant characteristics of participants is important for CBR development. CBR project setting with suitable CBR workers will be helpful to predict its success and sustainability. It will be more successful should other challenges of CBR will be also addressed.

Irit Aizik (Myers-Jdc-Brookdale Institute, Israel)
Learning from Success - A method for creating knowledge together

ABSTRACT. One of the main challenges for me, as a researcher in an applied research Institute, is to overcome barriers in participatory process and find methods which will allow me to include, as much as possible, the service user’s knowledge and points of view, in the research, its findings and most important – the recommendations following the research. One such method, which I found useful, is the Learning from Success mothed. Learning from success is a method that helps extract tacit knowledge and then formulate it as “actionable knowledge” that focuses on actual actions that contributed to a successful treatment/event/program/change etc. The extracted knowledge is conceptualized into new knowledge that can be learned by all those interested in learning about the topic at hand. In the presentation I will introduce the basic concepts on which the method is based: defining success, tacit knowledge, actions. I reflect on the benefits and challenges of the method, and I will show several examples of studies where this method was used, in Israel, for example: 1. Learning from success at the Department of Social service in Beer Sheva– where we studied what contributes to successful treatment from the point of view of the service user and that of their social worker. 2. Success story of community theater show – the story of a community social worker who, together with a group of family members of people with disabilities, created a community theater show that performed more than 50 times, to varied audiences.

Kimberlea Cooper (La Trobe University, Australia)
Lauren Zeuschner (Federation University, Australia)
Rachel Goff (RMIT University, Australia)
Opportunities and challenges within a place-based research collaboration in Australia: Reflections on methodology
PRESENTER: Lauren Zeuschner

ABSTRACT. In this presentation we will reflect upon collaborative practice-based research that took place within a government-industry-university partnership in Ballarat, Australia. The Central Highlands Children and Youth Area Partnership brought together local community service organisations, state and local government, social work researchers, and other stakeholders. As a part of the collaboration, five doctoral students conducted practice-based research studies in the areas of out-of-home care, family violence, and integrated family services. Each study was designed in partnership with these government and industry stakeholders for the purposes of informing policy and program design in the local context.

In this presentation, we will discuss and compare several qualitative methodologies used by the doctoral researchers in terms of why they were chosen; how the research played out in practice; how they included the voices of people with lived experience; and pathways for research translation and impact. We will share some of the personal and contextual challenges that were encountered within the complex, dynamic and evolving context of the government-industry-university partnership, and we will reflect upon our learnings from participating in the broader partnership, as well as the opportunities to influence policy, practice and service design.

We hope to contribute to the continual development of our shared knowledge of how best to design collaborative practice-based social work research. This presentation will be of interest to social work researchers and doctoral students who are developing research partnerships.


Presenters: Lauren Zeuschner and Rachel Goff

Robyn Martin (RMIT University, Australia)
Ronnie Egan (RMIT University, Australia)
Bawa Kuyini (RMIT University, Australia)
Rob Cunningham (RMIT University, Australia)
Patrick O'Keeffe (RMIT University, Australia)
Rachel Goff (RMIT University, Australia)
A community partnership approach to designing a sports-based youth development program in Melbourne, Australia
PRESENTER: Rachel Goff

ABSTRACT. Sports-based youth-development programs support positive impacts on the psycho-social wellbeing, physical health, educational and employment outcomes of young people from diverse backgrounds (Cunningham et al., 2020). Evidence also suggests that including the experiences of people in the design of solutions to difficult to solve problems, such as crime prevention, enables better outcomes for individuals, families and their communities. This presentation reports on the expansion and redesign of an existing basketball program aiming to improve health and wellbeing and prevent (re)offending in young African-Australians living in Melbourne, Australia.

This collaboration - between grassroots resettlement support service, Afri-AusCare and RMIT University - adopts a community-based co-design methodology and integrates the African philosophy Ubuntu to test the relevance of and where appropriate, co-develop culturally humble design tools, such as card sorts, photo elicitation and empathy maps with Afri-AusCare service users. The co-development of the tools generate insights, identify community priorities, create the program prototype, and ensure meaningful, respectful and creative participation of the Afri-AusCare community.

The presentation will detail the longstanding partnership between the community organisation and social work academics, as well as the process of building relationships and co-developing both the program and research tools. We also report on the development of the prototype of the new program, implemented in partnering primary schools in February of 2023.

This presentation will provide practical information for social work practitioners and researchers interested in community-based co-design with culturally diverse communities and will highlight the potential for community empowerment and self-determination within a practice research setting.

15:30-17:00 Session 4G: THEMATIC SESSION: 7.1 - Potentials and Barriers in Participatory Processes in Practice Research
Timothy Sim (Singapore University of Social Sciences, Singapore)
Location: P2 (15th floor)
Alison McInnes (Northumbria University, UK)
Potentials and barriers in practice research when researching diversity in food poverty with colleagues in Uganda

ABSTRACT. Background and purpose: This study arose in response to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) including the SDG 2 (Alleviation of Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), which have amongst their targets an aim to eradicate preventable deaths in children under five years old. Sustainability is about equality between our present needs and the needs of future generations.

Methods: This is based on our collaborative research on ‘Practitioner perspectives on child feeding in Uganda’. We will discuss the aims of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development (GA), which aims at strengthening the SW profession by building linkages between global challenges and local responses. To address these issues through nutritious child feeding, it was essential to understand the views and experiences of practitioners involved with child feeding practices. Our study drew on the views and experiences of practitioners working with the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS).

Results: This presentation will highlight  knowledge and attitudes towards child feeding in Uganda, with an emphasis on the GA in SW discourse and where solutions can be developed within  that community.  Three themes were developed from analysis of the data: Lifestyle Choices & Restrictions; Limited Resources & Facilities; and Knowledge & Education. 

Conclusions and implications: A reflection on the challenges encountered, lessons learnt, the potentials and barriers in participatory processes in practice research, and suggestions for better integrating the GA will be presented.

Hanna Kara (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Maija Jäppinen (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Camilla Nordberg (Åbo Akademi University, Finland)
Anna-Leena Riitaoja (University of Helsinki, Finland)
Using results-testing focus groups in collaborative ethnography
PRESENTER: Maija Jäppinen

ABSTRACT. Inclusion of various stakeholders in different stages of the research process is a key element in practice research. Drawing from a collaborative ethnographic research project on street-level institutional encounters between social work practitioners and migrant-background service users in the Helsinki capital region, this paper focuses on the role of stakeholder involvement in interpretation of the research results. We discuss the use of results-testing focus groups, and the possibilities and significance they provide for engaging practitioners to the research process and interpretation of the preliminary results. The ethnographic data produced on the first stage of the project consists of observations of service encounters (n=39) in immigration services, adult social services and child welfare services, brief reflective discussions with practitioners straight after the encounters (n=32), and thematic interviews conducted separately with both migrant service-users and practitioners (n=51). After preliminary analysis of these data, we conducted three focus group sessions with social work practitioners and members of the middle management to gain their critical reflections of the initial results. Two more focus groups with team managers and migrant service users had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. In this paper we ask: What was the significance of the results-testing focus groups for the analysis process? How did the focus groups affect/change the results? We argue that involvement of social work practitioners and managers on this stage of research process can deepen the analysis and bring in new perspectives, as well as facilitate dialogical transfer of research findings to practice.

15:30-17:00 Session 4H: WORKSHOP: Collaborative attempts and struggles: Service user involvement, shared learning processes and knowledge
Liesanth Yde Nirmalarajan (Aalborg University, Denmark)
Pernille Wisti (Aalborg University, Denmark)
Pernille Wisti (Aalborg University, Denmark)
Liesanth Yde Nirmalarajan (Aalborg University, Denmark)
Collaborative attempts and struggles: Service user involvement, shared learning processes and knowledge
PRESENTER: Pernille Wisti

ABSTRACT. The potential of Practice Research can include contributions to practice in social work based on knowledge produced by service users, researchers, social work practitioners etc. This workshop invites attendees to a joint learning process and discussion of opportunities for service user involvement. Knowing power dynamics of inequality or asymmetrical relations influence the involvement - whether decision-making, collaboration, joint learning processes or changes in practice - we approach different democratic processes by studying how shared knowledge is made possible in Practice Research. What measures and circumstances must be considered when this is the ambition?

Every practice research process has its’ unique challenges, interests, and distinct characteristics. Yet across empirical fields and results, the attempts and struggles to co-produce knowledge with service users have similar traits. We suggest inspiring each other, sharing these unique experiences and successes, and raising concerns related to service user perspectives and agencies; the positions and responsibilities; agendas, collaboration, and joint learning processes. After two short pitches, the shared discussion relates to hands-on research practices, different forms of agency etc. to inspire and motivate a shared ambition to develop and strengthen service user involvement in Practice Research. To stimulate the joint learning process, the workshop facilitates a digital, co-produced, generic document of key points, recommendations, and experiences. This can reflect the attendees’ active discussions of and reflections about such perspectives as the workshop strives to make use of the overarching experiences of practice research with a particular focus on service users’ positions in such processes.

18:10-18:20 Departure for the welcome reception (5-minute walk from Comwell Hvide Hus)

We meet outside the main entrance at 18:10 and walk together the 400 m to the reception venue.

The student assistants will lead the way and make sure that everyone gets to the museum on time.  

18:30-21:00 Welcome reception hosted by the City of Aalborg

Welcome speech by Ms. Helle Frederiksen, Acting Mayor of Aalborg.

Food and beverages will be served at the welcome reception after the welcome speech.

Pernille Wisti (Aalborg University, Denmark)