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Social care

We are a major funder of social care research in England. Since 2006, we have awarded more than £200 million to social care research projects. We also work with other funders in this space, such as the Economic and Social Research Council and the Health Foundation.

We support research across social care and social work in many ways. We:

  • fund research and offer training and career development for researchers
  • deliver a network of support to enable research across the social care sector
  • provide opportunities for carers, social care practitioners, people who draw on social care services and their families to influence and take part in research

Social care researchers

Find out more about the funding opportunities and support available for social care applicants.

Help with research

Explore opportunities for carers, people who need care and support and their families to influence and take part in research.

What is social care research?

Social care aims to help people remain independent, retain their dignity and achieve a better quality of life. The research we support works to find ways to improve people’s lives and help them live well.

Our research covers topics such as: mental capacity and personal finances, supporting parents with learning disabilities, topics related to adults with dementia and their carers.

Explore our research

We provide libraries and evidence databases that publish and promote research findings:

A full list of active and completed NIHR funding awards is available on the Funding and Awards website.

Social care research funding

We fund social care research studies through our different funding calls. In 2023 we launched our dedicated Research Programme for Social Care.

View funding opportunities in social care.

Support is available on the process and best practice for completing the application documents. More information is available on the individual funding call pages or our social care researcher page.

Working with partners

Social care services are supported and delivered by a range of organisations and local authorities. Across the NIHR, we have successful working relationships with providers, commissioners and care organisations.

An example of one of our charity partnerships is our work with Autistica. We partnered with them to fund research into how to provide safe and effective social care for autistic adults.

Such partnerships are essential to ensure that research addresses the needs of carers and people who draw on social care services.

Explore more in our charities section.

School for Social Care Research

The school is a partnership between seven universities to develop the evidence base to inform and improve adult social care practice in England. Find out more about its work, events and training opportunities.

Local authorities

Explore how we work with local authorities and the support we offer to help build research capacity.