The carer-related knowledge exchange network (CAREN): enhancing the relationship between research and evidence and policy and practice

Larkin, Mary and Milne, Alisoun (2020). The carer-related knowledge exchange network (CAREN): enhancing the relationship between research and evidence and policy and practice. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice, 16(3) pp. 491–501.



Background: Although there is now an extensive international body of research and evidence about care and carers it is fragmented and disparate. Without synthesis, organisation and accessibility it cannot effectively inform and improve policy and practice with carers.

Key points for discussion: This paper makes the case for an accessible carer-related research and evidence resource for stakeholders in carer-related domains across policy, practice, research to address this systemic deficit in the carers field. The Carer-related Knowledge Exchange Network (CAREN) has recently been established in recognition of this case. This timely resource is a freely accessible knowledge exchange network that provides relevant stakeholders (for example, carers, commissioners, policymakers, practitioners, employers, third sector organisations, researchers and research funders) with access to a regularly updated and coherent database of carer-related research and evidence; offers interactive opportunities to exchange and generate knowledge; facilitates links and information sharing; and disseminates innovative practice, interventions and services. CAREN’s development, dimensions and functionality are outlined. In addition, the paper identifies and explores the challenges of sustaining CAREN and its further development – namely long-term funding and ensuring that it meets the needs of its many and diverse users.

Conclusions and implications: It is anticipated that CAREN will make a significant contribution to research, policy development and service and practice improvement with carers, and will enhance the effectiveness of its stakeholders’ activities. The realisation of CAREN’s potential will ensure that it can, and continues to, make a significant, sustained and cost-effective contribution to addressing a critical global issue of the 21st century

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