Recent and ongoing research

My research is in the field of social work and the law, community care provision and professional values, with particular interests in:

  • the relationship between law and social work practice;
  • policy implementation and professional practice;
  • partnership and participation.

I am currently involved in researching:

  • the governance of adult safeguarding, and the concept of self neglect in adult safeguarding practice;
  • the impact of a pilot project offering support to carers.

1. Theme Summary - the relationship between law and social work practice 
Over many years I have contributed to the development of social work law, identifying key features of the relationship between legal rules and professional practice and exploring the learning, teaching and assessment of law in social work education. Publications arising from this work have received international attention leading to collaborative, interdisciplinary development of international understandings of the diversity of the relationship created by different national jurisdictions. I have presented papers at a wide range of international conferences and provided advice to government in the UK and Australia. In 2008 I took a visiting appointment to Stockholm University  to work with a national network of educators and practitioners.

E-learning objects exploring law and social work, developed for use the Social Care Institute for Excellence are available at One resource in 2007 won first prize from the Association for Learning Technology for innovation in e-learning.

Recent social work law projects have included the following:

2. Research into policy implementation and professional practice
I have engaged in a number of funded research partnerships with local and national agencies, including both statutory and voluntary organisations and have a long-standing commitment to the building of knowledge based in practice and the evaluation of practice. Recent projects include:

3. Theme Summary - Partnership and Participation
An important and enduring research focus has been the participation of service users and carers, both in service planning and provision and in professional education. Work within this theme builds on critical engagement with the notion of legal and policy mandates for participation. Recent work includes:

  • Child advocacy as a means of promoting effective participation;
  • The involvement of service users and carers in systematic review;
  • A survey of carers' involvement in social work education;
  • Capacity building and participatory research with the users of a voluntary organisation.