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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. Whether you are new to research or have past experience, you can engage with the different programmes across the NIHR.

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.

Get involved in social care 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 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.

Funding for social care research

We fund social care research studies through our different funding calls. In 2023 we launched our dedicated Research Programme for Social Care.

Support is available on the process and best practice for completing the application documents. More information is available on the individual funding call pages. View funding opportunities in social care.

Career development

We provide opportunities to develop your career in social care research.

We understand that not everyone will have the time to pursue an academic career. There are resources and opportunities to get involved in that will give you a taste of research:

“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

Read Charlotte's story

Help and guidance for social care research

We are not only funders of research. We offer help and support along the research pathway, even if you are completely new to research.

Designing a study

If you have an idea for a research question or something you want to research further, our Research Support Service (RSS) can offer free guidance and support. RSS advisers can support you to identify the gaps in the project and ensure your research will be robust.

Writing proposals

The RSS can help you write clear and competitive research applications. They can read draft proposals and provide constructive feedback. Individual funding calls also offer support and run events such as writing workshops. For example, potential applicants to the Research for Social Care call can use its pre-submission form to submit a brief outline of their projects and get some initial feedback from the team.

Applying for funding

The RSS can help direct you to the most relevant funding sources. It can help you prepare for application interviews and guide you through the process of getting funded.

Involving professionals and the public

Within the NIHR, there is extensive experience of involving the public in research. If you need input from carers, people who draw on social care services or social care professionals into the design of your study, the RSS can help.

If you need help to locate settings and participants, our Local Clinical Research Networks can help to connect you with relevant people. For example, if you are a researcher looking to work with home care providers, we can help facilitate that.

Our ENRICH network can advise, support and recruit for research within care homes.

Disseminating your research

Our journals library, evidence databases and NIHR Open Research platform can help publish and promote your research findings. 

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.