Published: 28 July 2023
The NIHR has launched a new £10m funding programme focused on social care research. The new programme will fund research which generates evidence to improve, expand and strengthen the way social care is delivered for users of care services, carers, the social care workforce, and the public.
The Research Programme for Social Care (RPSC) will replace NIHR’s Research for Social Care (RfSC) funding call. RfSC has invested £13 million into social care research across six funding calls since its launch in 2019. The new programme's first funding call will open on 27 September 2023.
RPSC will fund research focused on improving social care for both adults and children. The programme is encouraging applications from researchers at all stages of their careers. Funding will be available for a wide range of social care research topics and research designs. Applicants in the devolved administrations - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - will be eligible.
NIHR is delighted that RPSC will be led by Professor Martin Knapp as Programme Director. Professor Knapp is also Director of the NIHR School for Social Care Research, and Professor of Health and Social Care Policy, in the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The new Programme aligns with DHSC’s new Innovation and Improvement unit, which is working with sector partners to establish clear priorities for innovation and research across adult social care. When fully established, the unit will look at how research can inform all aspects of policymaking and delivery of care across the sector, to ensure we learn from best practice and promote new approaches to care that can improve outcomes for the people at the heart of it.
RPSC will run two funding calls each year and more focused highlight notices periodically.
Professor Knapp said, “The launch of this new Programme highlights NIHR’s commitment to funding the research we need to improve social care. I’m excited to work with people who draw on social care, carers and social care professionals across the sector to tackle the challenges we need to address with innovative new research.”
A continued focus on social care research
RPSC is part of NIHR’s continued focus on building and improving social care research. Since 2006, the NIHR has awarded more than £200 million to social care research projects. The new programme stands alongside several other high-profile endeavours to provide evidence and support researchers and social care practitioners:
- NIHR’s School for Social Care Research. The SSCR aims to develop the evidence base for adult social care practice in England
- The Social Care Incubator, supported by NIHR. The incubator provides opportunities for researchers to learn about adult social care, related research and the opportunities that exist for developing research knowledge, skills, networks and projects in the sector.
- NIHR’s Applied Research Collaborations. The ARCs each focus on social care as part of their applied health research. ARC Kent, Surrey and Sussex is the ARC national priority lead for social care and social work.
- NIHR’s Policy Research Units. Several PRUs focus on social care topics, including Adult Social Care, Health and Social Care Workforce, Health and Social Care Systems and Commissioning, the Economics of Health and Social Care, and Quality, Safety and Outcomes of Health and Social Care.
The NIHR also runs the Health and Social Care Delivery Research Programme, which funds research to produce rigorous and relevant evidence to improve the quality, accessibility and organisation of health and social care services.