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Launching the NIHR's annual Research for Social Care call

Published: 25 September 2019

Following the success of the first RfPB social care call, we recently announced that the NIHR will be continuing to invest in social care research via the Research for Social Care (RfSC) call

This annual call will enable the high quality research we need to understand how to improve social care for everyone. Social care research can change lives by supporting quality of life and independence, and build a social care system that works for everyone.

RfSC demonstrates NIHR's commitment to improving social care, both by generating new evidence in the field and building capacity for further research. I'm excited to see the best and brightest ideas that will help shape the future of social care research.

The annual RfSC call will have a budget of £3 million, and the first call opens on 25 September. See call dates.

We are thrilled to be able to offer this exciting opportunity for social care researchers and really hope we can build on the fantastic response to the 2018 social care call. We hope to see proposals that generate evidence to address the needs of social care users and carers, and have the potential to improve social care delivery.

We also hope to fund more Early Career Researchers and support capacity development in social care research. For more information please see the call specification.

To help you prepare for this call and to give you a chance to talk to me and the programme managers in person, we have a series of RfSC roadshows planned with the NIHR Research Design Service (RDS). The events are planned for:

  • Monday 30 September, Bristol
  • Tuesday 08 October, Manchester
  • Monday 14 October, London
  • Thursday 17 October, York
  • Tuesday 22 October, Birmingham

You can book your free place now through the RDS and also request a one-to-one session to discuss your research idea with a member of the team.

We also have a pre-submission form where you can outline your research proposal for review by a member of the team who will be able to advise you on whether the idea meets the call specification. This is ideal for those who can’t make one of the above roadshows and would like to check their idea is in scope for the call.

A selection of the projects funded during the pilot RfPB social care call are summarised below.

Professor Sarah Galvani, Manchester Metropolitan University

Professor Sarah Galvani is working with people with drug and alcohol problems to develop a new way of providing care for them at the end of their lives. She hopes to co-create a better way to support and inform people so that their substance use issues are taken into account and their friends, family and carers are also supported.

Dr Katie Graham, University of York

Dr Katie Graham is exploring how local communities can help support parents with learning difficulties. The ultimate aim is to help Local Authorities to recognise the needs of these parents and make sure they can get access to services and community support.

Dr Kate Baxter, University of York

About two out of every five people living in a care home are funding their own care. Dr Kate Baxter is developing a website called that will help these ‘self-funders’ to access information about finding and funding social care, from others who have been through the same experiences.

Dr Mark Wilberforce, University of York

Dr Mark Wilberforce is investigating how specialist mental health support workers can help older people receiving social care at home, who also have mental health problems such as anxiety or dementia. His research will develop a handbook to improve support workers’ skills and help people access the social care they need.

Professor Shereen Hussein, University of Kent

The social care sector is struggling with many staff leaving the profession. Professor Shereen Hussein’s work is looking at the impact of care work on social care workers’ quality of life, to understand more about how they can be supported and ultimately to improve the quality of care.

Professor Jennie Wilson, University of West London

Professor Jennie Wilson is finding out about the challenges of caring for people in residential homes who have trouble swallowing. This problem is common in people affected by stroke, dementia or Parkinson’s and can lead to issues like pneumonia. The project will inform a future study to test a new way to improve safety and care for these patients.

Professor Jacky Swan, University of Warwick

Professor Jacky Swan is investigating how new methods become more widely adopted in social care. Evidence shows that finding housing for homeless people first and then addressing their medical needs is an effective way to reduce long-term homelessness, but this innovation has been slow to spread. Understanding why could help to improve the way new ideas and evidence are used in social care.

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