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Programme Development Grants – Adult social care call specification



NIHR Programme Development Grants (PDG) invites proposals to address the challenges within adult social care and aim to improve the evidence base for adult social care. We are particularly interested in applications that include users of social care, focus on populations and communities with high support/care needs, or have historically been under-served by research activity, and address equality, diversity and inclusion. Involvement of relevant social care providers, social care professionals (including managers and commissioners) and carers is also welcome, as is consideration of self-funders.


Adult social care is a strategic priority for the NIHR1, and it currently supports a range of social care research across a variety of funding opportunities, including but not limited to: the Research for Social Care (RfSC) call, Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) programme, the School for Social Care Research (SSCR) and various Policy Research Units (PRUs) amongst other funding opportunities.

This PDG funding call is an opportunity for new applicants or existing Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) award holders to submit proposals that aim to address the challenges and improve the evidence base for adult social care.


The call’s scope seeks proposals that address the challenges and aims to improve the evidence base for adult social care (including the transition from children’s to adult services). In particular, those that have an emphasis on the delivery of research findings that will have practical benefit to the social care system, people supported by social care, carers and future service users.

To support this aim, the NIHR PDG programme is inviting proposals aimed at strengthening adult social care research across England. The call encourages proposals addressing a range of adult social care topics, including but not limited to:

  • Social care inequalities
  • ‘Unmet’ social care needs
  • New and/or innovative models of care
  • The needs of self–funders and their families
  • End-of-life care 
  • Housing related support 
  • Employment related support
  • Family carers, unpaid carers and carer support
  • Social care practice and workforce
  • Social prescribing and other approaches to working, such as strengths- and assets-based approaches
  • Economic analyses of social care services and systems 
  • Interventions to help tackle loneliness and isolation.
  • Interventions to promote well-being
  • Transitions between self-funded and local authority-funded care
  • Transitions and interactions between health and social care and other systems
  • Transition from children’s to adult social care services

When preparing proposals, applicants should seek to highlight the way in which the proposal, and any future PGfAR award:

  • Clearly demonstrates how social care service users and/or carers and care providers are involved and engaged in the research, and how the proposed research is relevant to them.
  • Addresses the social care requirements, with a focus on relevant outcomes if appropriate, of specific populations, communities and/or individuals with high support/care needs.
  • Develops or evaluates the evidence base for current or new ways of working and/or providing social care.
  • Builds on existing evidence or practices within social care, and aims to make a step change to practice and/or outcomes. 
  • Addresses stated local national priorities for policy, practice, and the user community.
  • Includes clear plans for implementation, knowledge mobilisation and dissemination.
  • Addresses equality, diversity and inclusion issues throughout the research design.

Call details


The call is open to researchers wishing to undertake either:

  1. preparatory work for a future programme of adult social care research eligible for funding by PGfAR
  2. to further develop an existing or ongoing PGfAR award to conduct work to explore social care perspectives arising from the programme. 

For the latter, applications are only permitted from applicants whose PGfAR contracts are finishing before 1 January 2022, or have finished in the past 18 months.

Proposals should fall within the remit of the PDG scheme. Applicants should note that this call falls under the current rules for eligible host organisations of PGfAR and PDG awards outlined in the introduction section of our supporting information for applicants.


Up to £500,000 will be available for this call.  

Individual grants can be up to £150,000 for 6 to 12 months. Projects must be prepared to start in January 2022. The amount of funding awarded, however, is determined by the scale and nature of the research or development activity to be conducted.

There is no formal expectation or guarantee that the recipients of PDGs will be successful in obtaining a subsequent Programme Grant award in the future. All future applications for PGfAR will be judged on their own merits against the published criteria. 

How to apply

PDGs have a one stage application process. We offer guidance for applicants wishing to:

  1. undertake preparatory work to develop a PGfAR in social care
  2. further develop a social care component to an existing PGfAR award.

Applicants should also consult the supporting information for applicants.

Proposals are submitted online through the Central Commissioning Research Management System (RMS). We supply a Word document version of the online application form to help researchers prepare their proposal ahead of submission. Only applications submitted online via the RMS will be accepted, however information can be copied from the Word template into the online application form. Please take care to comply with the maximum word counts. 

The deadline for submission of the PDG application is 1 pm on 24 November 2021. Applications submitted beyond this deadline will not be considered.

Key call dates

Call launch 4 October 2021
Call close 24 November 2021
Notification of outcome Early January 2022
Project Start Mid January 2022

Contact information

For general and scientific queries relating to the call, including queries relating to the administrative process of applying, please contact