Heads Together is a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence funded research collaboration across universities in the UK, exploring brain injury social work education.
The project is a collaboration led by Professor Andrew Bateman (University of Essex), and includes Dr Mark Holloway Consultant/Expert Witness, HeadFirst; Dr Alyson Norman, (Plymouth University); Dr Mike Clark, (London School of Economics) and Dr Mark Linden, (Queens University, Belfast), Caroline Bald (University of Essex) and Akudo Amadiegwu (University of Essex).
Head Injury affects thousands of people in the UK. Each year 1.4 million people attend emergency departments in England and Wales with a recent head injury.
Heads Together aims to identify the knowledge and understanding social workers have of brain injury; ascertain the training currently available and develop a central resource point for social work practice around brain injury.
- Systematic review
- Social Workers and Practice Educators
- Specialist Brain Injury Social Workers
- Experts by Experience
The research team has now published a systematic scoping review of the knowledge base produced by social workers on acquired brain injury.
The dataset for “Social workers and acquired brain injury: A systematic review of the current evidence-base” has now been published in PLOS ONE.
It contains details of 17 papers included in a manuscript titled “Social workers and acquired brain injury: A systematic review of the current evidence-base”
Dr Mark Linden of Queen’s University, Belfast who led this part of the project said, ‘Our paper brought together diverse literature on how the social work profession has examined its interactions with survivors of brain injury. We summarised our findings as relating to the need for advocacy in social work, the need for training and multidisciplinary team working, the importance of including wider social networks and the acknowledgement of societal barriers in accessing services. The paper calls for all social workers to possess some level of training in ABI.’
The review systematically explored the evidence base to examine how social workers have been prepared to work with their clients with brain injury. Employing six electronic databases (Social Policy & Practice, Web of Science, Scopus, PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus) 1071 papers were reviewed. After applying eligibility criteria 17 papers were included in this review. Standardised data extraction and quality appraisal tools were utilised to assess all included papers. Following appraisal, 9 papers were judged as possessing high methodological quality whilst 8 were judged as medium.
Employing narrative synthesis, four themes were identified which captured the key findings of these papers. Themes were named as (i) advocacy and social work (ii) training and multidisciplinary team working (iii) inclusion of social networks and (iv) societal barriers.
The paper concluded that in order to meet their statutory responsibilities to practice safely, social workers must receive training in how to identify ABI and develop understanding of its consequences and subsequent need for provision. Social workers are also in a unique position to advocate for their clients and should make every effort to ensure their needs are met.
The full paper can be found here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0292128
A key aspect of this project is the perspectives of people affected by brain injury
This includes people with brain injury, their family members and carers, and the professionals who support them.
This group will inform the research which aims to improve social worker knowledge of brain injury and outcomes for people affected by this condition. Dr Alyson Norman and Caroline Bald run the Experts by Experience group – the group has met online and also in person to allow the voices of those with brain injuries, their families, but also social workers with personal experiences of brain injuries to be included in the research.