Social care research gets up to 20 million boost from NIHR

Social care research in England is set to receive up to 20 million in new funding through the National Institute for Health Research, boosting research to improve adult social care across the country.

The investment by the Department of Health and Social Care will fund the next five years of the NIHR School for Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR), of which researchers from the University of Bristol are members.

Social care researchers in the School for Policy Studies will help shape its strategy and undertake ground-breaking research to help improve practice.

The NIHR SSCR funds adult social care research and training for researchers wanting to find out more about the best ways to improve social care practice. It brings together leading academic centres for social care research in England, and supports internationally leading research in social care to improve the wellbeing of people needing care and support.

Academics in the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol have already undertaken several influential studies funded by NIHR SSCR building on strengths in social care research relating to, for example, older people, disability, housing, equality of access to social care, and social isolation and loneliness.

Professor David Abbott , from the School for Policy Studies, who will be an Associate Director of the NIHR SSCR, added: "This is a crucial time to understand how social care works and how it might look in the future. Our collaborative approach to social care research has always focused on research questions that matter to people at the ’front-line’ of social care. We very much look forward to working with social care users, family carers, practitioners and managers in the sector to explore real-world problems and possible solutions."

The Government is committed to improving the evidence around social care so that people are provided with better and more effective services in the future. The NIHR has already invested £30 million into the School for Social Care Research, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2019. Thanks to the new investment, the School will continue to develop capacity in social care research in England over the next five years.

This £20 million investment into social care also includes £1.8 million investment for training researchers through the new NIHR Academy, which will be coordinated through the School for Social Care Research.

Care Minister Caroline Dinenage said: "Thanks to advances in healthcare, people in England are living longer than ever before. That’s a testament to world-leading research and is clearly something to celebrate, but it’s important to think about how we can adapt our health and care system to meet the changing population’s needs.

"This £20 million boost to social care research is an investment in the future and will help us understand how best to provide care and support that keeps people living healthy, happy and independent lives for as long as possible."

Professor Martin Knapp at the London School of Economics and Political Science, director of the NIHR School for Social Care Research, said: "The social care system relies on robust evidence to show what people need and want, what works and with what resource implications.

"I’m delighted that the School is receiving further investment from NIHR through DHSC to answer these questions. Our research will continue to involve people who use services, those who provide unpaid care and the care workforce to ensure that social care works for the people who need it."

The seven NIHR SSCR partner institutions are:

  • London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
  • King’s College London (KCL)
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Kent
  • University of Manchester
  • University of York

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