Research Theme

Social policy and social care

This research theme draws from a predominantly social science perspective to explore issues of health and social care in a broadly construed social policy context.

Within this stream key areas are interpretive policy analysis, as well as a focus on policy in practice, across a range of practical contexts.

Previous research projects

Evaluating Edge of Care pilot service

A multi-disciplinary team evaluated a pilot service in the East of England offering a therapeutically led attachment-based intervention for families on the edge of care where there were significant safeguarding concerns alongside attachment problems in the parent/infant relationship and an identified parental mental health problem.

The evaluation examined psychological and safeguarding outcomes and explored practitioner perspectives.


McPherson, S., Andrews, L., Taggart, D., Cox, P., Pratt, R., Smith, V. and Thandi, J. (2018) Evaluating integrative services in edge-of-care work. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. 40 (3), 299-320

Designing a system-wide occupational and employment support system in Essex for people with mental illness and learning disabilities

Essex County Council wanted to develop a new approach to support people with mental illness and learning disabilities currently receiving adult social care support moving into meaningful occupation (ideally paid employment).

The project involved a systematic literature review, a survey of relevant local conditions within Essex and stakeholder engagement via focus groups and interviews to explore perceived benefits, barriers and facilitators and to enhance our understanding of local conditions, followed by a stakeholder engagement event to co-produce a system-wide set of recommendations.


Richardson, K, McPherson, S and Gladwell, V (2018). Designing a system-wide occupational and employment support system in Essex for people with mental illness and learning disabilities

Impact of Welfare Reform on social housing tenants

The report is primarily based on interviews with social housing tenants in various parts of Essex about their experiences of Welfare Reform.

As Universal Credit had not yet been fully introduced in Essex, the report focused primarily on the effects of the Spare Room Subsidy (‘bedroom tax’), the Benefit Cap, introduction of council tax contributions, non-dependent deductions, and the re-categorisation of claimants previously seen as disabled and unable to work, to being seen as able to work.

The study looked at respondents’ perceptions of the changes to their lives that they had experienced since the introduction of Welfare Reform, and on those issues that were deemed relevant to social housing providers.


Thiel, D, Speed, E and Cristo, SM (2015). The Impact of Welfare Reform in Essex: A Report for the Essex Housing Officers’ Group.

Current doctoral research

Exploring social inclusion and participation: assessing the impact of the Care Act (2014) on the social experience of being a carer

Applying a mixed methodology design this project aims to understand the extent to which the new provision for carers under the Care Act (2014) can promote their wellbeing, participation and inclusion through the use of direct payments. It draws on secondary analysis of carer specific national datasets and insights form carers.

Kathryn Chard

A critical examination of the political construction and development of social work in Greece with refugees and asylum seekers in the humanitarian non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

The focus of this research is on social work in NGOs, focused particularly on exploring via interviews social workers’ experiences and the ethical difficulties they face in the context of their everyday practice.

NGO staff will also be interviewed to identify perceived ideas regarding social work to demystify the interplay between social work practice and the principles of social justice.

Georgios Papaleonidopolous