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The DEEP Programme

How DEEP is grounded in the principles of the Wales School for Social Care Research


The logo for the Wales School for Social Care Research pictures the coming together of 4 different beating hearts; of research; of people, of practice and of policy. Each of these hearts makes its own contribution to making the world a better place. The aim of the School is to bring these four hearts together to make an even bigger difference through co-production. The DEEP approach to learning and development aims to support this.

What do we mean by the DEEP approach to learning and development?

The DEEP approach is essentially a storytelling and dialogic learning based approach to using diverse types of ‘evidence’ (i.e. research evidence, practitioner knowledge, lived experience of service user and organisational knowledge) in social care policy and practice development. It is grounded in the principles of social pedagogy in that it is a respectful, caring and relationship-centred approach to learning and development. It starts with and builds on the reality of participants, and values and responds to their knowledge and ‘what matters most’ to them. It is not about imposing research evidence on them. It is also based on the understanding that we are storytelling animals, who meaningfully engage with and learn from any kind of ‘evidence’ when it is presented in story format. Because it values diverse types of ‘evidence’, which can sometimes disagree, it also has to involve dialogic learning, allowing for the airing and exploration of different perspectives. This grounds the use of research evidence in the context of practice and lived experience. The approach also requires senior management buy-in to support any systemic changes that are needed.

There are five elements to the DEEP approach, which is evidence-based. A range of academic contributors have supported the development of the DEEP approach, including the sharing of particular techniques to support the approach in practice.