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Working with dignity in contemporary social care settings: The contribution of the working life experiences and knowledge of retired social workers


This collaboration between SCWRU, WISEArchive, and the Social Work History Network uses oral history to capture a sample of the knowledge and expertise of retired social workers, in order to distil key messages and learning for contemporary social work practice. This is an opportunity to ensure that knowledge, experience and reflections are not lost to the current and future profession. 

Research team

Jess Harris, SCWRU
Michelle Cornes, SCWRU
Joan Rapaport, SCWRU
Pauline Weinstein, WISEArchive
John Peardon, Older People Researching Social Issues (OPRSI)
Social Work History Network


NIHR Senior Investigator Award


WISEArchive – – is a non-profit online public archive collecting, preserving and studying the working life experiences and personal recollections of the retired workforce in Britain. WISEArchive grew out of a concern that historical knowledge and experience from the changing workplace of the last 50 years are being rapidly lost and that much is held in the memories of older people. Personal recollections and reflections are primary source material which fill gaps in research material and provide a resource for policymakers, educators, students and the workforce.


Ten interviews were undertaken with retired social workers on the chosen area of ‘dignity in social care settings’. Interviews were carried out by members of the Social Work History Network, retired social workers themselves, offering the opportunity for a dialogue within the research methods. Analysis of the findings and presentation of the outcomes have been a collaboration between SCWRU, WISEArchive, and the Social Work History Network.


December 2007 – March 2009


The outcomes were presented at a Making Research Count conference for practitioners in June 2008. Opportunities are now being explored to maximise their application in social care education and research. 

Related work
Manthorpe, J. & Carr, H., (2008), 'Promoting Dignity within the Law. Adults' Services Practice Guide 09 - Law', London: Social Care Institute for Excellence.
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