What is Evidence Based Care

What is Evidence Based Care?

Health and Social Care Blog

Care Learning

6 mins READ

Evidence-based care, also known as evidence-based practice, is crucial in adult social care and healthcare. It combines the best research with clinical skills and the needs of those receiving care.

Definition and Components of Evidence Based Care

Best Research Evidence
This involves using up-to-date, high-quality research to guide client care decisions. This research usually comes from scientific studies and peer-reviewed journals that assess different treatments and programs.

Clinical Expertise
This is about the abilities and knowledge of healthcare professionals. They use their expertise to decide which research applies to a patient’s specific situation and how it fits into their care plan. They also manage resources effectively within institutional rules.

Client Preferences and Values
Central to personalised care, this component focuses on incorporating what individuals want or value into their treatment plans, ensuring respect for each person’s unique background, experiences, and perspectives.

Application in Social Care

Adult social care should focus on evidence-based practices. These are methods proven by research to help with treatment and support independent living for adults. This includes selecting appropriate interventions for adult care, effective strategies for adults with disabilities, and managing chronic diseases.

Implementation Process

Implementing evidence-based care follows these steps:

  1. Formulating a Clear Clinical Question: Start with identifying a need, such as whether an intervention can improve daily activities in adults with dementia.
  2. Searching for the Best Evidence: Look at current research, including systematic reviews and randomised control trials.
  3. Appraising the Quality of Evidence: Evaluate the reliability and relevance of studies to ensure they are suitable.
  4. Applying the Evidence: Combine this evidence with clinical expertise and client preferences to choose the best action plan.
  5. Evaluating the Outcome: After applying it, monitor its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.

Challenges in Social Care

Implementing evidence-based practice in social care encounters several challenges:

  1. Resource Limitations: There is often a shortage of resources and time, making it difficult to thoroughly search for and assess research evidence.
  2. Training and Education: It’s crucial that all social care professionals receive training in evidence-based practice methods.
  3. Resistance to Change: Staff may resist adopting new practices because of established habits or doubts about new research findings.
  4. Variability in Research Quality and Accessibility: Not all necessary research is easily accessible, and there can be gaps relevant to specific practice scenarios.

Examples of Evidence Based Care in Health and Social Settings

In the UK, evidence-based care is adapted to different adult social care settings. Here’s how it works across various environments:

Residential Care Homes

  • Managing Dementia: Studies show that personalising care improves dementia patients’ well-being. Strategies include creating individual music playlists, using reminiscence therapy, and maintaining routines similar to those the resident had before. These methods have proven effective in enhancing life quality.
  • Fall Prevention Programs: Research supports physical exercise for better balance and strength in older residents, helping reduce falls. Care homes often run exercise sessions aimed at preventing these incidents.

Home Care Services

  • Technology in Chronic Disease Management: Telehealth has shown great promise in managing chronic diseases remotely. Home care providers use this technology to monitor vital signs and symptoms, enabling early problem detection and timely treatment to avoid hospital readmissions.
  • Medication Management: Reviews show that medication management programs are beneficial, especially for clients with complex prescriptions. Home care services implement these programs to ensure proper adherence to medication plans, improving health outcomes.

Day Care Centres

  • Social Engagement Activities: Research shows that social activities boost mental and cognitive health in older adults. Day care centres often provide group activities like art therapy, discussions, or light exercise, which help improve mood and mental engagement.
  • Nutritional Programs: Tailored nutritional programs address the dietary needs of older adults, such as diabetes-friendly meals or modified textures for those with swallowing issues. These are crucial for maintaining physical health in day care settings.

Specialized Adult Care Facilities (e.g., for Learning Disabilities)

  • Behavioural Therapies: For adults with autism or learning disabilities, therapies like Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) are used to enhance social skills and reduce disruptive behaviours.
  • Sensory Rooms: Sensory rooms are effective in reducing distress and improving sensory processing for individuals with learning difficulties. These facilities include such rooms to aid in calming users, helping them engage better in daily tasks.

Palliative Care

  • Symptom Management: Managing pain and other symptoms effectively is essential in palliative care. Using research-backed protocols helps ensure that terminally ill patients receive both effective and comfortable treatment.
  • End-of-Life Care Decisions: It’s important to use evidence-based frameworks and tools when discussing end-of-life care preferences. This ensures decisions are informed by reliable data on patient outcomes and quality of life.

Mental Health Facilities

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a proven method for treating mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Many facilities use it as their main treatment approach to help people change negative thoughts and behaviours.
  • Integrated Care Pathways: These are clear, research-based plans used to treat specific mental disorders consistently and effectively. They’re created from the best evidence available and help guide healthcare professionals in treating conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Community-Based Support Groups

  • Peer Support Programs: For those dealing with addiction or chronic mental illnesses, peer-led support groups are very beneficial. These programs offer support networks and personal experiences that aid recovery alongside professional treatment.
  • Exercise Programs: Community centres often run exercise programs for older adults, promoting physical activity, which can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and boost cognitive function.

Specialist Nursing Homes (e.g., for Neurodegenerative Diseases)

  • Activity-Based Therapy: Music and art therapy programs are used because they help keep cognitive functions in patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • Disease-Specific Nutritional Support: Dietary plans that include specific nutrients can slow the progression of neurodegenerative diseases or reduce symptoms, according to research.

Emergency Response Services

  • Crisis Intervention Techniques: Evidence-based models are employed to manage mental health crises effectively, ensuring quick and suitable actions to prevent escalation.
  • Assessment Tools for Immediate Needs Evaluation: Validated tools quickly determine the mental and physical health needs of those in crisis, enabling immediate and customised care plans.

Rehabilitation Centres

  • Stroke Rehabilitation: Teams of experts work together in stroke rehabilitation to improve motor skills, speech, and mental health. Studies show that this comprehensive approach helps stroke survivors recover faster.
  • Virtual Reality Therapy: Using virtual reality (VR) in rehab for physical or neurological issues is gaining support. VR creates a realistic setting that aids in enhancing motor skills and speeding up recovery.

Hospices

  • Management of Terminal Symptoms: Hospices use proven guidelines to ease symptoms like pain and nausea effectively through specific medications tested in rigorous trials.
  • Emotional and Bereavement Support: Evidence-based programs are used to help patients and their families cope with grief during terminal illness and after losing a loved one.

These examples from different settings show how using evidence-based care improves the quality of care and health outcomes in the UK’s varied social care landscape. This method makes sure that interventions are scientifically valid and seen as relevant and helpful by both caregivers and those receiving care.

Where to find evidence

Finding strong evidence to support evidence-based care in the UK means looking at various academic, clinical, and professional resources that publish research findings, systematic reviews, and clinical trials. Here are some key sources for reliable evidence:

Academic Journals

These are crucial for scientific evidence. Most journals use peer review, where experts check articles for accuracy, importance, and originality. Examples include:

Online Databases

These databases offer access to a variety of academic resources:

PubMed: A free search engine that gives you access to the MEDLINE database, which includes references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics.

CINAHL (Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature): Great for nursing and allied health professionals.

Cochrane Library: Known for its systematic reviews that evaluate and synthesise evidence across a topic.

PsycINFO: Best for exploring psychological aspects of health and social care.

Government and Health Organizations

These sources compile current research into practice guidelines:

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE): Offers guidelines based on solid evidence about health and social care.

Public Health England: Provides research reports on various public health issues.

Department of Health and Social Care: Issues policy papers that reflect the latest legislation and research in healthcare.

Books and eBooks

Textbooks and professional books offer detailed insights into evidence-based practices in healthcare and social care. You can find these resources at university libraries or on platforms like Google Books and Amazon.

Professional Associations and Networks

These organisations frequently release guidelines, position papers, and research updates:

Conferences and Seminars

Attending conferences, workshops, and seminars in the field of health and social care can provide insights into the latest research findings and methodologies that might not yet be published in journals.

These events also offer networking opportunities with researchers and practitioners.

Educational and Research Institutions

Universities and research centres often publish their research findings on their websites. Following websites and publications from institutions known for their research in health and social care can be very beneficial.

Each of these sources can provide different evidence, from empirical research to meta-analyses and expert opinions. For effective evidence-based practice, it’s essential to understand not only where to find the evidence but also how to critically appraise its quality, relevance, and applicability to specific contexts in social care.

Always aim for the highest level of evidence, such as systematic reviews and randomised control trials, when available and relevant.

Final thoughts

Evidence-based care is essential for modern adult social care, aiming to provide services that are not only effective but also customised for individual needs. As research progresses and our understanding of these needs expands, applying evidence-based practices can improve both the quality and outcomes of adult social care.

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