… we are pleased to announce that the MIRRA project has obtained further funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In our first project we focused on understanding the information needs of care experienced individuals, and this enabled us to build a set of recommendations around the creation, management and ongoing accessibility of children’s social care records. This had the aim of better supporting the care experienced to enrich their memories and their sense of identity’. Some work from this first phase is still ongoing. However, with this new funding we are now developing a set of specifications that can underpin a new record-keeping system for use in child social care that takes our recommendations into account and which centres the needs of the person in care. Crucially, it will be designed to provide better opportunities for care experienced individuals to contribute to their files. We are delighted to be working with the commercial company OLM Systems on this. OLM are expert software developers who work with public services and the wider care sector. This next phase of the work will be known as MIRRA+. The result of the research will be an open-source specification for a participatory digital social care recording system.
As previously, we will also be working with care-leavers (as co-researchers), social care workers and information professionals who will be using the system. We wish to capture their views on what the system should look like, how it should function, and what features would work for them.
I keep saying ‘we’ of course, but in fact I should introduce myself. I am Peter Williams, the new Research Associate working full time on the project. I have worked as a researcher at UCL on various projects since 2004 but am delighted to have this opportunity. In addition, I will be working with Anna Sexton. Anna worked on the initial pilot project that was the forerunner to MIRRA. In my case, at the time of the first MIRRA I was working on a British Academy-funded study looking at the role and impact of mobile devices on the lives of people with learning disabilities – the last of a long line of projects working with this group. However, I kept up to speed on MIRRA, partly because it was similar to my own work ‘participatory’ also in that those involved were not mere research ‘subjects’, but ‘participants’ (if not ‘co-researchers’) and partly because I shared an office with the amazing Victoria Hoyle who worked on MIRRA full time. It will be very hard to match her expertise, although I hope I have the same enthusiasm, and will certainly try my best! Elizabeth Shepherd and Elizabeth Lomas continue to work on MIRRA too.
Meanwhile, watch this space for more news on our progress!