Ethnographic Study

About the Connecting People study

This study is exploring the role of health and social care workers in assisting people to develop social relationships, gain access to resources and develop secure attachments within their social networks.

Why carry out the research?

Social capital, which refers to the power, wealth or abilities that individuals gain through people they know, has been shown to improve quality of life and may have an impact on recovery from mental health problems. Little is known about how health and social care workers can assist individuals recovering from psychosis to access social capital. There is also a lack of research on how workers help individuals develop secure attachments with those in their social networks so that these individuals may harness existing social capital.

Social capital may be a vital ingredient to the success of personal budgets and service user-led support interventions. As such, the Connecting People study will explore best practices amongst health and social care workers in assisting young people recovering from psychosis to develop and mobilise social capital.

The results of this research will contribute to the development of a social capital intervention that will support people to develop secure attachments and improve their access to social resources.

How is the research being undertaken?

This study will draw upon ethnographic field research of health and social care as well as a Delphi Consultation with numerous stakeholders to develop the social capital intervention. A research worker is conducting ethnographic field work in community mental health service settings, in housing support settings, and with small social inclusion projects geared towards people with mental health problems. This method will provide a rich outlook on the context of existing practices. Interview responses with health and social care workers will be considered simultaneously with the perspectives of service users and the research worker’s observations of practice.

The findings from the ethnographic study will then be compared with the existing literature and a Delphi Consultation will be undertaken with our advisory group to develop a social capital intervention. The purpose of this consultation is to ensure that the intervention we develop is feasible and adheres to the theoretical background of social capital.

Who is involved?
The research is being undertaken by Dr. Martin Webber and Hannah Reidy. The study is based at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, and is funded by the NIHR School of Social Care Research.

The following agencies are participating in the study:

Kingston Rise
Somerset Team for Early Psychosis
Hestia Housing and Support
West Kent Early Intervention for Psychosis Service
Social, Hope and Recovery Project, Lambeth
BlueSCI
Start Again Project

What is the timescale?
The first phase of the fieldwork is complete and we are currently in the second round of fieldwork until March 2012. At the end of the second round of fieldwork we will undertake a Delphi Consultation process with our advisory group to develop a social capital intervention. Results in the form of training materials, publications and conference presentations will be disseminated in August 2012.

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