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Social care practitioners

If you work in social care or social work and want to explore options for engaging with, or using research, we can help.

We provide support to enable research to happen and improve the lives of people who need care and support; carers and practitioners working in social care. Whether you are new to research or have past experience, you can engage with the different programmes across the NIHR.

Get involved in research

There are many ways to get involved in research. You could help design a new study by submitting a research question or partnering with a research group. You could join an existing study or apply for funding to carry out your own research.

Many of our researchers have professional backgrounds such as occupational therapists, social workers and social care managers.

You can suggest a topic for research via our suggestion page.

You could get in touch with your local Applied Research Collaboration (ARC). There are 15 centres across the country conducting research in different areas. They can advise more on the work taking place and how you could be involved.  Emily, an Oxford-based social worker, was able to take her first steps into research through an internship at her local ARC, read Emily's experience of interning in research.

Joining a committee is also an opportunity to be involved in research and learn more about the funding process. Our different committees decide which research projects to fund and prioritise. We look for people with social care experience and expertise to inform decisions.  Find out about becoming a professional committee member.

Fellowships and training

We offer different career development and training opportunities for those looking to explore social care research. See how we can support your career as a researcher.

We have a Local Authority Academic Fellowship Programme which supports individuals working in local authority settings, to gain research experience up to PhD level and develop as social care researchers. This is while retaining their existing employment and salary.

Read more about what this involves in Charlotte’s story. She is a social worker in child protection at Manchester City Council and member of the fellowship scheme.

“I think that there is such a huge potential to develop practitioner-academics within children’s social work. There is an opportunity to lead research relevant to practice within the Local Authority and, in turn, influence social work policies and practice.” 
- Charlotte Ashworth, social worker 

The NIHR Fellowship Programme supports individuals at different research career stages from all professional backgrounds. It can support them on the way to becoming future leaders in social care research.

Another option for those looking to pursue a career in research while maintaining their professional practice, is our Integrated Clinical and Practitioner Academic Programme. It provides research training awards for social care professionals who want to combine academic research with continued practice and professional development. It is open to practitioners in both adult and children's social care.

The School for Social Care Research offers training, events and development opportunities. 

Browse our social care research

Our research programmes publish accounts of our social care research in the  NIHR Journals Library. You can search our plain English summaries of social care research topics on the NIHR Evidence website, such as this research collection exploring adverse childhood experiences and the support young people.

Read through the different research outputs from our Adults Social Care Policy Research Unit.

Care options for self-funders

See how researchers helped build new website pages with people's  feedback on how they found and fund their own care.

Local authority training

Explore the different professional development courses, training programmes and fellowships for social care practitioners.

ENRICH network

Find out more about the ENRICH network which brings together care home staff, residents and their families with researchers.