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22/50 HSDR Social care rapid evaluation research team - specification document


06 April 2022


1.0 March 2022


22/50 Call for Expressions of Interest: HSDR Social Care Rapid Evaluation Research Team
Closing date: 1pm on 9 August 2022 (two stage – Expression of Interest (stage one) to stage two)


The Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme wishes to commission a social care rapid evaluation team. The team will work in partnership with colleagues working in social care services to produce proportionate, alongside real time, evaluations of innovations and developments in social care services, which will generate evidence of national relevance to improve care and outcomes for service users, their support networks, and professionals delivering those services. This call covers adult and children’s services.

The evidence should be of immediate use to decision-makers to improve the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of services.

The purpose of this call for expressions of interest is to identify a suitable applicant team (a consortium of research providers is acceptable) able to undertake this type of evaluation. The commissioned team will have demonstrable networks into the social care frontline; enabling them to make evaluations transferable to the whole of social care in the UK.

Whilst methodological development is not the primary intent of the call, the HSDR programme is interested in pushing the methodological boundaries of social care services research. We would view this as a by-product of evaluation work.

Teams expressing an interest should demonstrate the following criteria:

  • Expertise in evaluation of social care services organisation and delivery
  • A track record in:
    • conducting research in collaboration with evidence users
    • partnership-working with the social care frontline, and have
    • well established exprtise in co-production methods of research and formative ways of working
  • Evidence of access to networks of evidence users who are innovating in social care services, experts in various social care service delivery and organisational disciplines (content expertise)
  • Familiarity with service issues is essential, as well as a deep understanding of the tensions and sensitivities which might arise when evaluating new initiatives in social care in real time
  • Ability to undertake evaluations that meet the needs of the “customer”, i.e. social care providers, local authorities, and service users and their carers
  • Novel approaches to getting fast uptake of research findings
  • Explain their understanding of service innovation.

Evidence-based or evidence-informed practice can lead to better care and outcomes for people who use social care and support. For people working in the social care system, policy makers and commissioners, having access to high quality research and evidence is key to supporting decision making, challenging ingrained ways of working and strengthening transformational change. Social care research can change lives, support independence and build the evidence base to support a health and social care system that works for everyone.

This call reflects the stated intentions of the NIHR in Best Research for Best Health: The Next Chapter, to expand the research it funds to support evidence-informed decision making in social care to reduce the disparities that exist in outcomes and access to care. This includes capacity building research activity in areas and locations where less research is being carried out and therefore where people have less opportunity to take part in research.


Applicants should work through a UK lens when looking at a specific service innovation, and outputs will include considerations of scalability as well as longevity of learning.

Co-production and highly participatory research methods, which close the gap between what the public wants in the way of social care services, and the need to make sure that what it wanted is delivered to the highest standards, will be required. Mechanisms of rapid knowledge transfer into practice will have to be considered and demonstrated by applicant teams. The HSDR programme is not specifying the deployment model applicants might wish to put forward. However, the programme is interested in seeing broad partnership-working including commissioners.

Outputs from a contract let under this call will be evaluations, using novel methods, of local and regional service developments and innovations for immediate national learning. The team commissioned under this research contract will not be asked to evaluate large nation-wide initiatives such as the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. The focus of evaluations will be identified by the HSDR programme.

Advancements in methodology will be a by-product of this call and applicants will need to show they have expertise in developing the research environment including ways of getting knowledge to move quickly into and across the social care pathway and organisations.

In commissioning a team with a critical mass of methodological expertise, we would expect there to be efficiencies in activity; the value of the contract(s) will be a maximum of £3m over a maximum period of five years outputting at least two evaluations a year, depending on the scope of each evaluation, to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Assessment process and timetable

Please ensure you have read the supporting document and expression of interest application guidance notes provided to support this call.

Expressions of interest will be considered by the Programme Director and a number of teams will be invited to submit a full application to the HSDR funding committee. Two to three representatives from each team submitting an application are likely to be invited to interview by the funding committee.

Expressions of interest must include:

  • Consideration of the criteria set out in this call
  • A statement of the general approach to be adopted
  • A description of the centre or team; its overall capacity and ability to recruit/supervise/direct resources as needed
  • A description of the team’s networks and partnerships
  • Brief CVs of the likely lead applicant and two other likely to be named as co- applicants should a full application be invited. The roles of these individuals and their level of input must also be stated
  • Arrangements for project management of the work and contract
  • Details of the resources required to undertake the work over the life of the contract

The on-line expression of interest application form should be completed and submitted by 1pm on 9 August 2022.

Probity & handling conflicts of interest

A competing interest will include any financial or other relationship with, or interest in, an intervention or service to be evaluated.
Any competing interests will be adjudged against individual evaluations within the contract. Any possible conflict of interest arising should be declared to the HS&DR programme at the time of scoping the evaluation.

Transparency agenda

In line with the government’s transparency agenda, any contract resulting from this tender may be published in its entirety to the general public. Further information on the transparency agenda is at: