• Resurrecting the interval of need concept to improve dialogue between researchers, policymakers, and social care practitioners

      Willis, Rosalind; Channon, Andrew Amos; Viana, Joe; LaValle Masters, Maria Herica; Hutchinson, Aisha; University of Southampton; Akershus University Hospital; University of Bedfordshire (Wiley, 2019-05-29)
      Academics, social care practitioners, and policymakers speak different languages. If academic research is to have an impact on society, it must be understandable and convincing to the end users. We argue that the conceptualisation of social care “need” is different among these stakeholders, leading to poor  communication between them. Academics should use concepts that have more meaning to practitioners. We propose resurrecting a little‐used concept from the 1970s, “interval of need”, to help to bridge this gap. The interval of need concept identifies how often people require help, supplementing the usual data about types of tasks where assistance is needed. The history of the concept is described, followed by a test of its usefulness for today's researchers by applying it to data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. An updated version of interval of need is proposed. Validation checks were conducted against mortality data, and through conceptual validation from a social work practitioner. The nature of the dataset limited comparability with previous studies. However, we conclude that the interval of need concept has promising scope to enhance communication of research findings, potentially leading to improved outcomes for service users. This paper strives to mark a turning point in the language and analysis of social care, ensuring that academic investigation in this field is convincing and clear to practitioners and policymakers.