Social care research projects to receive annual investment

Extra money will be provided annually to fund research into adult social care.

Following the Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) programme last year, which funded twelve projects with £2.5m, there are now plans for a further £3m from next month.

The RfPB has helped projects that range from work to find the best ways to care for people in their own homes, to online tools aimed at teaching adults with learning disabilities how to read.

The programme, which is run by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), aims to bolster improvements in social care through high-quality evidence.

The NIHR has decided to invest in the research with annual funding calls via the RfPB programme, under the banner of Research for Social Care. In November, the NIHR announced it will fund a third phase of its School for Social Care Research, with just under £20m committed over five years.

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said: ‘Social care research has the power to transform people’s lives by building our knowledge of which types of care best support our health, happiness and independence. The NIHR’s investment in innovation will help create a sustainable social care system for the benefit of everyone – from older people to unpaid carers to those with learning disabilities of any age.

‘There are some fantastic projects already underway, and I’m looking forward to seeing what brilliant ideas are brought forward in this annual funding call, which will significantly boost social care research in this country.’

Professor Martin Knapp, director of the NIHR School for Social Care Research, said: ‘NIHR is investing in research skills and researchers, as well as working with local authorities and social care providers. As the leading funder of social care research, NIHR has an enormous amount to contribute.’

Projects that have received funding to date include Stacey Rand at the University of Kent, whose research is helping to find out what types of services in the community are most useful in helping people with dementia to live in their own homes; Dr Louise Denne at University of Warwick, who has developed an online tool to help teach adults with learning disabilities how to read; and Dr Phillip Whitehead at Northumbria University Newcastle, who is researching ‘double-handed’ homecare packages.