Stakeholders in social care campaigned for separate arrangements for the ethical review of social care since the publication of the first Research Governance Framework for Health & Social Care in 2001.
Following a lengthy consultation in the social care sector, the Department of Health (DH) asked SCIE to appoint a new national Social Care Research Ethics Committee which has been operating since June 2009.
‘Research Governance is the process by which the quality of research can be assured and the rights, dignity and safety of those involved can be protected. Published in 2001 and updated in 2005, the DH Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care covers the conduct of research in the NHS and adult social care. It aims to protect participants by ensuring there are clear arrangements to identify and manage any risks associated with a study. It calls for explicit agreement about roles and responsibilities, and draws attention to the law and good practice’.
‘The RGF sets out basic standards for every party involved in research, in five key areas: ethics; science; information, health and safety and finance. Ensuring that research meets these standards is the central role of research governance systems’.
All research is expected to meet the same standards of governance, but it is recognised that there are important differences in the health and social care contexts.
This recognition resulted in a separate Implementation Plan for Social Care (PDF file), published by the DH in 2004. The Plan gives a key role in governance to Councils with Social Services Responsibilities.
The purpose of the Resource Pack is to assist Councils with Social Services Responsibilities to fulfil their role in ensuring that research involving their clients or staff is carried out in an ethical and sound way. The Pack sets out clearly how to establish transparent systems to approve, record and monitor research activity. It explains why research governance is necessary and what it means in practice. It includes a section on frequently asked questions and gives examples of how different Councils have set up research governance systems. It summarises the relevant legislation and provides some practical tools for reviewing research proposals.