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19/117 Adult social care partnership commissioning brief



Closing date: 16th January 2020 (two stage – Stage 1 to Stage 2)

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Service & Delivery Research (HS&DR) programme is keen to support capacity building across a wide range of disciplines working in adult social care services and wishes to ensure that its research is conducted in the areas where the health and social care needs are greatest. Through supporting the establishment of novel, sustainable partnerships between social care research and practice, the intention is to improve the effectiveness of decision making by facilitating research utilisation and knowledge mobilisation by those who plan, commission and deliver adult social care services in the UK.

It is anticipated that partnerships supported through this call will lead to the submission of high-quality proposals to the NIHR research programmes in order to increase the evidence base to improve the delivery of social care services and outcomes for people who use services, carers of people in receipt of services, and/or are working in the sector.
Activities supported under this partnership call may include:

  • Fostering network and partnership activities between academic research and social care practice;
  • Supporting cross-disciplinary teams of investigators, particularly to encourage investigators currently working in different disciplines;
  • Enabling capacity building and the development of a critical mass of expertise in social care research, particularly in those geographical areas of greatest need;
  • Providing protected research time for front line social care staff;
  • To add to the evidence base on research utilisation and knowledge mobilisation by social workers;
  • To explore any linkages between better use of research (alongside other forms of knowledge) and improved organisational performance.

Justification as to how the award will lead to the development of sustainable partnerships between research and practice will be required to support applications for funding; networking or research activities alone are likely to be rejected.

Who can apply?

The partnership must be led by the lead applicant or joint lead applicants who will be responsible for ensuring the successful delivery of the proposed partnership activities and will manage the funding in accordance with the NIHR standard research contract. Lead applicants may be based in any appropriate host institution or organisation within the UK e.g. Local Authorities, NHS or voluntary organisations, Universities and HEIs. Applicants should check the guidance documents to find out the specific eligibility requirements, and contact the programme if they have further questions regarding eligibility. The sponsor of the research must be capable of fulfilling the role of a research sponsor as set out in the UK Policy Framework for Health and Social Care Research.

The roles and responsibilities of the co-applicants should be clearly justified; specifically their contribution to the partnership and how they will work together to deliver the objectives.

We are interested in supporting partnerships involving practitioners and commissioners at all levels. We recognise that individuals at different levels have differing roles in relation to the use of research and other forms of knowledge. We anticipate that a range of projects in size and scope will then be commissioned. Contracts are likely to be for up to 48 months with an annual review and break point to assess progress including outputs and evaluation during the lifetime of the partnership. Resources may be requested to support investigator time, particularly to support protected time for front line staff with justification as to why this is necessary for the partnership. We welcome joint leadership arrangements.

Examples of some deliverables and what is expected from these partnerships are listed below. Interventions in this context may also include frameworks and approaches:

  • Pilot work to prepare for an evaluation of an intervention which has been identified by the network which could have national learning for social work colleagues as identified by the front line members of the network;
  • Develop a method of identifying novel interventions at local level and ways of setting up the interventions in order to enable evaluation later on; developing local method for fast establishment of measures of success and data collection;
  • Develop modes of communication to suit the network’s membership and to enable that membership to cascade back to their colleagues;
  • Develop national links with other networks;
  • Connection exercises with existing professional bodies based on learning from evidence;
  • Develop “evaluator in residence” model in a locality, working with front line staff, officers and elected Members to establish routine sharing and use of evidence to inform practice.

Deadline for proposals

The deadline for Stage 1 applications is January 16 2020, at 1pm.

A webinar to support applicants is planned, potential attendees should register their interest at the following email address

General questions about the call should be sent to: For guidance, please send a short summary (max 1 A4 page) of your proposal to the same address.