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

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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. 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. 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.
key messages

Key stakeholders need accessible, carer–related research and evidence .
Lack of synthesis of and knowledge exchange around carer–related research and evidence is a systemic deficit.
The ‘Carer–related research and evidence exchange network’ (CAREN) addresses this deficit. Realising CAREN’s potential will enhance the relationship between carer-related knowledge and policy and practice.
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Keywords: carer-related research and evidence; family carers; knowledge exchange; knowledge exchange networks

Affiliations: 1: The Open University, UK 2: University of Kent, UK

Appeared or available online: July 18, 2018

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