School for Social Care Research
Improving the evidence base for adult social care practice
Methods Review 6
Overview of outcome measurement for adults using social care services and support
The School for Social Care Research The School for Social Care Research is a partnership between the London School of Economics and Political Science, King's College London and the Universities of Kent, Manchester and York, and is part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) http://www.nihr.ac.uk/. The School was set up by the NIHR to develop and improve the evidence base for adult social care practice in England. It conducts and commissions high-quality research.
About the author
PSSRU Personal Social Services Research Unit
Ann Netten is Director of the Policy Research Unit of the Quality and Outcomes of Person-Centred care (QORU) and of the Kent branch of the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU). She is an Associate Director of the NIHR School for Social Care Research (SSCR), professor of Social Welfare at the University of Kent and a member of the Academy of Social Sciences. Her research interests include the measurement of outcome, costs and quality in social care, housing and care of older people and economic evaluation of social welfare interventions, including criminal justice. She is a trustee for the Elderly Accommodation Counsel.
NIHR School for Social Care Research London School of Economics and Political Science Houghton Street London WC2A 2AE Email: [email protected]
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This report presents an independent review commissioned by the NIHR School for Social Care Research. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NIHR School for Social Care Research, the Department of Health, NIHR or NHS.
NIHR School for Social Care Research Methods Review Overview of outcome measurement for adults using social care services and support
ABSTRACT What is meant by outcome inevitably varies depending on the context and scope of what is under consideration. This review discusses the measurement of outcome for individuals and their carers for research purposes, particularly the type of research which evaluates the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of social care for adults and which has implications for social care practice. The review discusses what is meant by outcome in social care, presenting a model that describes different ‘types’ of outcome and how these are related to one another. Ultimately the objective is improving people’s quality of life, and the review defines ‘social care-related quality of life’ as key to reflecting the impact of services. Some of the important challenges in measuring outcome in social care are identified: attribution, adaptation, reflecting the relative importance of the diverse aspects of quality of life and mental capacity and communication difficulties. The review then briefly describes practical approaches to measurement and concludes by making a number of recommendations for measuring outcomes in practice and the need for further methodological development.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RESEARCH ON ADULT SOCIAL CARE PRACTICE ■
Ultimately the objective is to improve the quality of life of people who use services and support and of their carers. While changes in patterns of service use might be the objective of the intervention, they are not outcomes for people using services. To identify the outcomes of such interventions it is important to reflect their social carerelated quality of life and/or well-being.
In addition to the intended outcomes there will often be unintended outcomes, be they positive or negative. For this reason, and to improve the sensitivity of research studies in picking up effects, it is bette