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Your Path in Social Care Research video transcript (CRN Wessex)


My name's Lee-Ann Fenge and I'm currently professor of Social Care at Bournemouth University, and I'm the CRN Wessex Social Care Lead. I've had a, I suppose, an interesting journey to get to this point in my career.

I started off life as a social worker many years ago, worked with both children and then adults. And then I had a student in practice who happened to mention to me that there was a role at the university and why didn't I apply for it? So I did.

And I was offered initially a part time lecturing role here at the university, and I was part time in practice, which was actually quite a good compromise to begin an academic career, having a foot in practice and a foot in academia.

But I soon realised actually I was very interested in and actually and my passion was working with people and finding out about their lives and supporting them to lead the best lives that they can.

Again, the knowledge that we use in sometimes in social care and in social work is borrowed from other disciplines. So there is a need to create knowledge and I think also to challenge the knowledge that we have.

And I think that's really where I've got to in my career at the moment. It's looking at creative ways that we can engage the voices of those that are seldom heard in research.

And I think research needs to be creative in that sense, to engage with all of those people that are living in under-served, under-served communities or in marginalised situations. So for me, it's exciting. And I think I get personally as a as a researcher, I get involved in lots of different types of projects which are broadly social care.

I think the future for social care research is quite bright at the moment because of the recognition from the National Institute of Health and Care Research that we need to be funding more social care research. So there's certainly more funding opportunities.

So one of the key things that we need to be looking at is how we can raise the profile of social care, how we can get government attention to the great work that's happening out there to support people to live fulfilling and healthy lives out there in the community. And I think also a recognition that you can't have a functioning health care service without a functioning social care system.

I don't think there's a typical pathway into social care research. I think partly recognising the diversity of social care sector, there are multiple routes in.

I would say a key way of getting into research to begin with would be to to apply for an NIHR internship as a first step, because I think what that does is enable you to cut your teeth on research, to build some confidence and to link with the university where you can then be mentored around the next step.

And I think a key thing is believing that research is for you. You know, research should be open to everyone.

The emphasis that we have now on working in partnership with experts by experience includes practitioner experts, and therefore we should be looking much more inclusively about how we co-create research that answers some of the challenges that we're all facing in social care.