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Research for Social Care funding call


The NIHR Research for Social Care (RfSC) call is a bi-annual competition specifically for social care proposals.

The aim of the RfSC call is to fund topics and research methodologies that increase the effectiveness of social care services, provide value for money and benefit service users and carers.

Social care is a strategic priority for NIHR. The Research for Patient Benefit programme has a bi-annual Research for Social Care (RfSC) call. 

RfSC funds research which generates evidence to improve, expand and strengthen the way social care is delivered for users of care services, carers, and the public. For full details, please see the call specification. Individual projects will be funded up to £350,000.

Applications through RfSC should have:

  • A clear trajectory to immediate and long-term social care benefits
  • A strong link with service users, carers and organisations which provide social care services
  • A team consisting of social care researchers, professionals/practitioners, carers and service users.

Proposals should also demonstrate appropriate research expertise, and teams should have a track record of relevant published research.

RfSC invites applications from higher education institutions, charities, local councils and relevant third sector organisations. 


What do we fund?

The RfSC call funds research which generates evidence to improve, expand and strengthen the way social care is delivered for users of care services, carers and the public.

How long and how much?

The funding available for individual projects is up to £350,000 for up to 36 months. For more information , please see our supplemental guidance notes on finance.

When is funding available?

RfSC has two opportunities per year. See the dates for our funding competitions.

How do I apply?

RfSC has a two stage application process. Please see the applicant guidance for stage 1 to find out more.

Applicants considering submitting a stage 1 application should consider submitting an outline of their proposal for guidance before official submission. This can be done using the pre-submission form. This is non-mandatory and purely aimed at helping potential applicants to engage with the requirements of the call (e.g. eligibility and remit).

Research proposals are submitted to RfSC online through the Research Management System. We supply a Word document version of the online application form to help researchers prepare their proposal ahead of submission.

More information on stage 2 is available in the applicant guidance for stage 2 and finance guidance. We supply template application forms for stage 2 to help researchers prepare their proposal ahead of submission.

What we fund

RfSC will fund research which generates evidence to improve, expand and strengthen the way social care is delivered for users of care services, carers, and the public.

RfSC research is expected to have a high degree of involvement from relevant users of social care and social care practitioners throughout the research. 

RfSC welcomes high quality proposals from researchers and practitioners which are focused on:

  • Social care needs and relevant outcomes (which could be quality of life, social or health care related, as appropriate to the study, population etc.)
  • Developing a more robust evidence base for current ways of working
  • Developing and evaluating new ways of delivering social care
  • Secondary data analysis, record linkage and reviews
  • Research methods development
  • Care users’ and carers’ circumstances and needs
  • Those who deliver social care including unpaid carers and the staff and professionals involved in the delivery of social care e.g. social workers.

RfSC is particularly interested to receive applications that involve underserved communities and their social care needs.

We are aware that social care is broad. If you are unsure as to whether a topic is within scope for the call please see the call specification,  contact the team or submit a pre-submission form.

Our people

The RfSC call is a national call, with applications reviewed by a national committee comprising social care experts, methodologists, public and practitioner members.

Committee members review all stage 1 and stage 2 applications and make funding recommendations based on the quality of applications, with support from expert peer reviewers.

The committee recommends projects for funding to the Department of Health and Social Care, which approves which projects should be funded.

Members of NIHR committees are required to declare any interests which conflict, or may be considered to conflict, with NIHR business, or may be perceived as influencing decisions made in the course of their work within NIHR programmes. All members are asked to complete the Register of Interest form (annually), which is intended to capture long term predictable interests that could be perceived to lead to conflicts of interest. These and other interests are judged on a case by case basis at individual meetings.

NIHR registry of interests

Our funding committee

See a full list of funding committee members.

Interested in joining one of our committees? View our committee vacancies.

Contact us

We offer a wide variety of assistance during all stages of the research process. If in doubt, please get in touch.

Tel: 020 8843 8057
Our operating hours are 9am to 5pm.