Examining how health and social care interventions can be sustained over time
Developing an intervention designed to improve or promote physical or mental health is only the first step to improving health. One of the main challenges that healthcare professionals and researchers face is ensuring that an intervention can be effectively sustained in practice over time.
Carrie-Ann Black is a PhD researcher at the Centre for Implementation Science working to understand the factors that impact on ‘sustainability’ across health and social care organisations. A mental health nurse by background, Carrie-Ann is based in the Centre for Parent and Child Support, an innovation centre at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
Carrie-Ann’s research is focused on the Family Partnership Model, an internationally recognised approach designed to help professionals work collaboratively with parents and families to prevent, intervene early and manage long-term difficulties. Parents and families may have a range of needs including parenting difficulties, child or adult mental health difficulties, child disability, childhood obesity, pre-term birth and families experiencing multiple stress and complex psychosocial difficulties. The Family Partnership Model is used by professionals in a wide variety of settings, including community health services, social services, children’s and early years centres, schools, child development services, and child and adolescent mental health services.
While the effectiveness of the model has been established, it is not always sustained in practice. Carrie-Ann is looking to identify how factors within an organisation support the successful sustainability of the model.
Taking a realist* approach, Carrie-Ann is interested in understanding how practitioners interact with the resources on offer to enable or inhibit sustained use of the model.
‘'My first step is to review the existing literature to draw out themes on how factors across a system interact with each other and their contexts to provide certain outcomes. I will then present these findings to a group of stakeholders for comment and will devise a preliminary framework for analysing the factors at play,' says Carrie-Ann.’
The stakeholder group will comprise members of organisations using the Family Partnership Model, from practitioners on the ground to team leaders and senior management as well experts from the field of implementation science. Carrie-Ann will observe several sites that are using the Model and combine with qualitative interviews with staff working across the system to test the effectiveness of the framework.
These observations will form the basis of Carrie-Ann’s research. Ultimately, she wants to close the gap between research and practice, developing a framework that will help organisations to sustain this intervention, and others like it.