Using research to develop new approaches to exploring relationships in health and social care

As widely established elsewhere, there is a growing need for designers of health systems to bridge the gap between the expanding demand on Health and Social Care (H&SC) services and diminishing resources. One of WSP’s responses to this challenge focusses on the need to harness the system-wide potential of human relationships across H&SC.  This focus was at the heart of our 2 year Knowledge Transfer Partnership research project with researchers from the University of Leeds. The project was created to co-design and test WSP’s emerging Relational Value (Rv) concept, as shown in this link.

The co-development work consisted of a five part research-practice action orientated cycle:

  • exploration of underlying behaviours, processes and practices from theory and practice
  • development of important relational themes and statements
  • testing of the developed relational statements through consultancy and research
  • refinement of core 'touchstone' relational statements
  • feedback to future research focus.

This work was used to inform the development of WSP’s strategic thinking and is also at the core of new WSP Rv tool.  For more information please see here.

Some of the results from the work can be explored in two academic papers. The first covers the background to the development of Rv from existing health literature and evidence and is available here; the second explaining how we tested the resulting work within an extra-care health system environment (available here).

Along the way we have created and contributed to a number of resources that reflect and inform our work including:

  • Reflections from Peter Lacey following an early relational value conference (available here).
  • The philosophical/theoretical background to Rv, in which Dr. Brennan Jacoby asks what worldview influences contemporary healthcare, and explores the impact of that worldview on relational value and experience in the health and care system. If you are interested in reading this paper contact the author here.
  • A presentation of early research work on Rv at the Evidence Based Management EHMA conference in Holland (see Poster here).
  • A user guide to understanding Rv including comparing and contrasting with similar approaches and tools (available here).
  • How Rv was used to inform the analysis of a new health and social care context (report forthcoming).
  • The development of the Rv tool, information on which is available here and the development of the Community of Interest, information on which is available here.
  • First attempts to include Rv in new system dynamic models.
  • Building a system-wide approach to community relationships with the findings of a scoping review in health and social care. Through an initial academic literature review this paper outlines the relational behaviours, processes and practices that support a healthy relational environment within an older people’s care community. Five attributes – integrity, empathy, respect, fairness and trust - are identified as paramount. A method of assessing for these in an older people’s care setting is outlined that enables health and social care services to consider this valuable relational resource in their thinking and planning. (available here for download).
  • An extra care community’s perceived priorities for ‘whole system’ relationships: a Q-methodological study. Health and social care settings worldwide need to sustainably improve the quality of relationships across communities or ‘whole systems’. The research carried out for this paper informs the development of a relational framework based on stakeholder perspectives. It is grounded in an action research project with practitioners, and draws on a previous literature review, to present the underpinning elements of quality relationships as statements, organised under the headings of integrity, respect, fairness, compassion and trust.(available for download here).

If you would like to join the growing network of people interested in developing this work or to be included in any way, please contact us here.