Overview and outputs of our collaborative action research and inquiry work with Aberdeenshire community planning partnership.
Our collaborative inquiry work in Aberdeenshire developed over time to focus on three broad and ongoing lines of inquiry:
- community capacity-building for health and wellbeing
- multi-layered preventative partnership working
- exploring the potential of collaborative learning and action
The activity took place mainly between May 2015 and December 2016 with later reflective working in 2017 and 2018.
The additional section below – Events, training and other research – highlights other work undertaken by What Works Scotland with or with Aberdeenshire CPP.
Early discussions between Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership and What Works Scotland in 2014 identified three areas of potential development of collaborative action research (CAR).
What Works Scotland Research Associate James Henderson (University of Edinburgh) and What Works Scotland co-director Nick Bland (Visiting Professor at University of Edinburgh) worked with Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership, Health and Social Care Partnership and the third sector to develop collaborative inquiring approaches around these initial areas.
Two of these areas were developed at the What Works Scotland National CAR Retreat in June 2015 into more focused areas of inquiries: community capacity-building for health and wellbeing, and evidence use/working across local and central community planning.
These broad themes have continued to provide a certain direction of travel for the work although the action inquiry work has continued to evolve as the context of the work has continue to change – with for instance local and central community planning becoming focused on multi-layered preventative partnership working; and collaborative learning and action becoming a focus in itself.
Reflective work alongside the research
The sense of an evolving research process is captured in the following reflective work by the practitioners and researchers:
Here, we ask participants in the Aberdeenshire collaborative action research group about what they learned (and continue to learn) from different projects. What do ‘we’ the participants think about putting the Christie Commission’s recommendations for how public services are delivered in future into action?
1. Community capacity-building for health and wellbeing
Inquiry into Community Links Worker pilot in Insch
The group brought together those with knowledge relevant to policy and strategy; improvement and learning; third sector roles; community development; public health; and action research.
Following a year of inquiry work the group published a report that explores good practice in community capacity-building for health and wellbeing, and what supports the development of that good practice.
- Learning about community capacity-building from the Community Links Worker approach in Insch, Aberdeenshire (2013-16) report
A new brief was drafted in 2017 for further potential inquiry work in relation to community linking and inequality.
Deepening discussions of Aberdeenshire HSCP’s community capacity-building strategy
Building from the Community Links Worker inquiry, What Works Scotland has undertaken related participatory and co-production activities with the HSCP and CPP. In particular a participatory workshop to map local activity and practice issues. The workshop and related work is recorded in a case study in the Multi-layered Preventative Partnership Working report.
2. Exploring multi-layered collaborative partnership working
Collaborative Learning Days to explore ‘Putting Christie into Action’ and scoping report
The CPP and What Works Scotland organised two collaborative learning days which built from early scoping discussions with central and local CPP staff. These brought together staff and organisations across the CPP to
- consider local and national evidence
- explore common issues, opportunities and good policy and practice
- build networks and opportunities for collaboration
The first Learning Day in December 2015 explored ‘Partnership and Participation’ and a Scoping Report was produced that established ‘preventing inequalities’, ‘managing change’ and ‘partnership working’ as relevant and rich areas for further inquiry.
- See the Scoping Report from the Aberdeenshire CPP and What Works Scotland’s Collaborative Learning Day 2015
The second Learning Day in May 2016 explored ‘Prevention and Preventative Spend’ – including national and local contributions and evidence and led to work to co-produce a report on exploring preventative partnership working.
Exploring preventative partnership working report
Building from the Collaborative Learning Days through Participatory Discussion Groups and individual discussions this work has mapped some of the developing collaborative practices, discussions and emerging issues across Aberdeenshire CPP.
- See the Inquiring into Multi-layered, Preventative Partnership report, an executive summary and two case studies
Related blog posts:
- Mapping the the frontiers of collaborative governance – by James Henderson from What Works Scotland
- Changing alcohol culture: developing our LOIP priority and what we’ve learnt about partnership working – by Wayne Gault, Lead Officer with the Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership
Development work to support implementation of the Community Empowerment Act
The CPP and What Works Scotland organised two development workshops – one with CPP Board members (January 2016) and the other with Board and CPP Executive members (May 2016) – to support collaborative discussions of how partners could seek to work together in taking reform forward. Alongside the workshops, informal discussions and presentations with the Board and Executive members built a picture of the challenges currently faced by the CPP which was used by the CPP in conducting its own review. . The outcomes from these workshops are recorded in the Interim Report (Dec 2016) that forms Appendix 2 of the final reflective learning report:
- At the frontier of collaborative and participatory governance: Eight key discussions to support putting Christie into practice – reflective with practitioners from Aberedeenshire CPP
This final reflective learning report continues to work and explore each of the three themes.
We asked participants in the Aberdeenshire collaborative action research about what they learned from different projects and what they continue to learn from the experience.
3. Exploring collaborative learning and action
Beyond Action Learning Report on empowering multi-disciplinary staff teams
The two facilitators of the (then) Aberdeenshire Community Health Partnership’s collaborative learning initiative worked with What Works Scotland to reflect on their own learning and practice in this spin-off from the Community Links Worker inquiry. The Beyond Action Learning project used an action learning set approach and improvement tools. The report illustrates 10 key issues for the practice of collaborative and inquiring approaches to partnership working for health and social care integration.
- See the Exploring collaborative learning, research and action in public service reform: Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Change Fund Beyond Action Learning initiative report
The facilitators – Fiona Soutar from NHS Grampian and Jane Warrander from Aberdeenshire Council – also wrote a blog post about the project and their reflective experience.
4. Events and training
As part of the joint working, members of the Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership participated in several national events with representatives from the other three What Works Scotland case sites.
These included the What Works Scotland National Retreats held in December 2014, June 2015 and February 2016.
National Retreat – June 2015
National Retreat – February 2016
- See Aberdeenshire CPP’s presentation about the Community Link Worker inquiry on the Easeally website
- See Aberdeenshire CPP’s reflections on the CAR experience on the Picktochart website
- See the What Works Scotland report about the February 2016 National Retreat
Facilitative Leadership training
Four staff from the CPP attended the Facilitative Leadership Training for Trainers course run by What Works Scotland in April 2017. You can read more about the aims of the course on the What Works Scotland blog.
What Works Scotland worked with police, fire and council services in the North East of Scotland to use a citizens’ jury to consider the issue of a community bonfire which, due to its popularity and size, was raising safety concerns for the local police and fire service.
Read and download a summary of the process: Local solutions to local problems: innovation in public participation – SIPR Annual Report 2016.
Discover more about our approach to collaborative action research and the learning that is emerging from our work in multi-agency, multi-practitioner public service environments including Aberdeenshire.
A working paper sharing the findings from the What Works Scotland programme of collaborative action research (CAR). The paper highlights learnings and insights that the researchers gained from facilitating CAR over three years (2015-2017) in the four community planning partnerships. The findings demonstrate that CAR has the potential to contribute to developing the practices of collaborative governance – partnership, participation, performance and prevention – by constructively and critically engaging with current policy and practice expectations.