Communities of practice (CoPs) often develop organically through shared interests or are created as a means of sharing best practice, disseminating knowledge and experiences as well as developing professionally or personally. According to the RAND Corporation the impact of CoPs can be difficult to quantify and there is incomplete evidence about the value they add. For CoPs to support current ambitions to transform UK health and social care a deeper understanding of their operation and consequences was required. For this reason a scoping review was undertaken, it had two primary research questions:
- How do the CoPs operate and how can their work be explored in more depth?
- How, when and why can the knowledge generated within CoPs lead to improved work?
The review intended to gather data to determine the best approach to a full-scale evaluation of CoPs, as well as to provide immediate evidence to help the CoPs improve their effectiveness.
Some of the CoPs covered in this review include medicines safety; maternity; duty of candour; medicines optimisation; sepsis; acute deterioration; and delirium. CoPs members include NHS non-medical and medical staff from a range of professional groups, and academics. (RAND Corporation)
If the knowledge necessary to resolve or explore a problem is in the CoP there is the opportunity for change, but if this is not the case then the CoP must be adapted or modified to engage senior leadership, change national mandates or work with commissioners.
The report identified a number of future evaluation questions along with associated subsidiary questions. The key overarching questions are:
- (How) is the momentum towards transformation sustained and what are the wider dependencies that are needed for this to happen?
- (How) is progress and value-added measured?
- (How) is the rhythm of learning sustained?
- (How) are cultures and principles nurtured and sustained? (RAND Corporation)