We work with researchers to fund and drive research in priority areas across social care and social work.
We also work with social care practitioners and people working in social care to offer routes into research.
Ways to get involved in social care research
Funding for social care research
We offer funding for social care studies through our different funding calls.
One of our main funding streams for social care research is the Research Programme for Social Care. This £10m funding programme launched in 2023 and funds studies such as this one into those who self-fund their social care.
The Health and Social Care Delivery Research Programme offers funding for evaluative research to improve social care services. It is open to applications all year round and advertises priority social care topics.
Social care research projects are also funded via our Health Technology Assessment Programme. This programme looks at cost-effectiveness and the broader impact of treatments, such as this study into assistive technology to maintain independent living.
Funding for projects which inform social care policy making can be awarded via our Policy Research Programme.
View the list of open and active social care funding calls on our funding opportunities page.
We provide opportunities to develop your career in social care research.
- We offer doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships to individuals from any professional background.
- We have schemes for those based in local authority settings which allow applicants to combine research with their current role. Our Local Authority Academic Fellowship is available at pre-doctoral and doctoral levels.
- We offer short placements within the NIHR via our Local Authorities SPARC scheme. There is also the opportunity for academics to undertake placements in local authorities. Read this case study from a participation officer at Southampton City Council who did a short placement award.
- Registered social care professionals can join our Integrated Clinical and Practitioner Academic Programme. It offers the chance to combine a research career while still working.
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:
- The School for Social Care Research hosts resources, events and training, including a webinar archive.
- The NIHR Incubator for Social Care is a community of individuals and organisations in adult social care with an interest in research. It can provide information about training and development you could undertake.
- Our YouTube channel has a selection of webinars.
- Our NIHR Learn platform offers free training on leadership development.
Help and guidance for social care research applicants
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.
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.
Get in touch
If you are planning a study, thinking about how to develop a research idea or want to learn more, contact the Research Support Service. You can also find and contact your Local Clinical Research Network.
You can also find out more about programme remits and more information by contacting funding call teams: