Social services, when based on the best available evidence of what works, are more likely to lead to successful outcomes for the people using them. This is what the Iriss aims to champion with the development of its Evidence-informed Practice Portal and the Confidence Through Evidence Toolkit, launched in April 2010.
Both the Evidence-informed Practice Portal and the Confidence Through Evidence Toolkit have been developed to support social services staff in finding and using evidence to inform their practice. They effectively bring together available evidence, useful resources and a toolkit into one central location online. The Confidence Through Evidence Toolkit forms part of the portal, which means it can be accessed from the home page, which saves the hassle of having to open another window in a browser and/or type in a new web address.
The Evidence-informed Practice Portal provides access to key evidence sources and evidence summaries, as well as multimedia resources and updates on new research, publications, news and events. Evidence sources include links to research from organisations, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Mental Health Foundation and the Scottish Child Care and Protection Network. The portal makes evidence summaries from various organisations easily accessible in the form of stories, guides, outlines, reviews, research briefings and reports. Relevant multimedia resources include videos and podcasts, which are gathered from a number of social service agencies, including IRISS and SCIE. The current awareness area of the site lists a range of related RSS feeds that can be subscribed to.
The Confidence Through Evidence Toolkit provides guidance on the process of finding and using evidence for service innovation and improvement. It contains four steps - Acquire, Assess, Adapt and Apply - designed to help people effectively use evidence in practice. Each step poses a number of questions that seeks to guide users towards resources aimed at improving skills and confidence, and to support them arrive at solutions relevant to their particular practice needs.