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Social care practice with carers: an investigation of practice models


Numerous job roles have been established aimed at identifying the needs of family carers and improving the support that is provided to them. However, very little has been known about their effectiveness. This project explored different models of social care support for family carers and evaluated how these are perceived by the workers themselves, commissioners, and family carers.


2010 – 2012 

Research team

Jo Moriarty, Jill Manthorpe, Michelle Cornes  and Shereen Hussein (SCWRU)


National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Social Care Research


The study employed a concurrent mixed methods design which included interviews with family carers, carers’ workers, commissioners, representatives of voluntary organisations, and a survey of local authority adult services departments. Secondary analysis of data on carers’ workers from the National Minimum Dataset for Social Care (NMDS-SC) was also undertaken. A synthesis of a sample of local authority websites was undertaken to investigate the quality of information offered online to carers.


The study highlighted the varied role played by carers’ workers in supporting family carers. Family carers still often found it difficult to access timely and relevant information and there is scope for local councils to evaluate the effectiveness of different ways of making sure that carers living in their locality are aware of their rights to support and know what is available to help them. Personal budgets offer new flexibilities for some but alternatives in the form of traditional services giving carers a break or access to emotional support and counselling are also needed by others.


Research Findings

NIHR SSCR Research Findings: Social care practice with carers: What social care support is provided to family carers? What support do family carers want? published November 2014

See also: Jo Moriarty's post on the Social Care Workforce blog, written for the publication of the Research Findings.

And see: Andy Nicholl's interview with Jo Moriarty about the findings in Community Care, 20 November 2014.

Social Care Workforce Periodical

A special issue of the Social Care Workforce Periodical (Issue 10: December 2010) has been prepared looking specifically at the carers’ workforce. 


Manthorpe, J., Moriarty, J. & Cornes, M. (2015) 'Parent? carer? mid-lifer? older Person? similarities and diversities across different experiences of caring and their implications for practice', Working with Older People, 19(2).

Manthorpe, J., Moriarty, J. & Cornes, M. (2015) 'Supportive practice with carers of people with substance misuse problems', Practice, 27(1): 51-65.

Moriarty, J., Manthorpe, J. & Cornes, M. (2014, online) 'Reaching out or missing out: approaches to outreach with family carers in social care organisations', Health & Social Care in the Community. Open Access

Moriarty, J. & Manthorpe, J. (2014, online) 'Fragmentation and competition: voluntary organisations’ experiences of support for family carers', Voluntary Sector Review.

Moriarty, J., Manthorpe, J. and Cornes, M. (2014) 'Skills social care workers need to support personalisation', Social Care and Neurodisability, 5(2), pp. 83-90.

Manthorpe, J., Moriarty, J., Cornes, M., Hussein, S. & Lombard, D. (2013) 'On-line information and registration with services: patterns of support for carers in England', Working with Older People, 17(3): 117-124.

Manthorpe, J., Moriarty, J. & Cornes, M. (2011) 'Keeping it in the family? People with learning disabilities and families employing their own care and support workers: Findings from a scoping review of the literature', Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 15(3): 195-207.


Moriarty, J. (2012) 'Carers and the role of the family', in Sinclair, A.J., Morley, J.E. and Vellas, B. (eds), Pathy's Principles and Practice of Geriatric Medicine (Fifth edition), pp. 2838-2855, Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.


Moriarty, J. (2015) 'Working with carers: 90% per cent job satisfaction, 0% job security', 6th International Carers Conference, Gothenburg, 4 September.

Moriarty, J. (2015) 'Family carers – national differences, similar problems – what can we learn from each other?', Symposium with Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, London, 28 May.

Moriarty, J. (2015) 'Older people's social networks', Camden Intergenerational Week, London, 11 May.

Moriarty, J. (2015) 'Understanding the Impact of the Care Act 2014 on People Caring for those with Dementia', Capita Improving Dementia Care Conference, London, 26 March.

Moriarty, J. (2015) 'Social care practices with carers: what role for carers' workers?', NIHR School for Social Care Research Annual Conference, London, 24 March.

Moriarty, J. (2015) 'A 3 in 5 chance of becoming a carer but what chance of getting the right support?', Caring for Public Health: Insight from carers to inform Public Health England, Bristol, 27 February.

Moriarty, J. (2015) 'What carers want: support for themselves and how they evaluate care by others', Working with people with dementia and their carers, London, 24 February.

Moriarty, J. (2013) 'Fragmentation & competition: voluntary organisations' experience of support for family carers', 19th Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference, Sheffield, 11 September.

Moriarty, J. (2013) 'Working effectively with carers and service users to support personalisation', Capita Conference: Transforming the Adult Social Care Workforce, London, 22 May.

Moriarty, J. (2013) 'What do carers need and what do we know about effective support for them?', Seminar on carers for social work students, University of Kent, 15 May.

Moriarty, J. (2012) 'Evidence in social care: filling in the gaps' [pdf, 2.27 MB], Evidence in Social Welfare & Practice, British Library, London, 7 December.

Moriarty, J. & Manthorpe, J. (2012) 'Social care practice with carers' [pdf, 603 KB], NIHR School for Social Care Research Carers Research Workshop, London School of Economics, 7 November.

Moriarty, J. (2012) 'Being older and active: is research useless or useful?' [pdf, 396 KB], Barnet Older People's Assembly, London Borough of Barnet, 1 October.

Manthorpe, J., Moriarty, J., Cornes, M. & Hussein, S. (2012) 'Improving social care work with the carers' workforce' [pdf, 1.15 MB], Transforming the Adult Social Care Workforce Conference, London, 25 September.

Moriarty, J., Manthorpe, J. & Cornes, M. (2012) 'More than tea and sympathy? Social care support for family carers' [pdf, 1.06 MB], 2nd International Conference on Evidence-based Policy in Long-term Care, London, 7 September.

Moriarty, J., Manthorpe, J. & Cornes, M. (2012) 'Local councils and family carers - can we reach a consensus on what's needed?' [pdf, 846 KB], NIHR School for Social Care Research, London, 14 May.

Moriarty, J., Manthorpe, J. & Cornes, M. (2012) 'Support for family caregivers: global issues and local solutions' [pdf, 400 KB], Second European Conference for Social Work Research, Basel, 23 March.


We have made several presentations to audiences of practitioners, carers, policymakers, and other researchers, and widened the number of people accessing these presentations via Twitter. We published two open access articles so as many people as possible can access the study findings.

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