27 March 2023
Professor David Abbott at University of Bristol’s School for Policy Studies and Associate Director, NIHR School for Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR), gives an update on adult social care research going on in Bristol.
Somehow, we are approaching the end stages of this third five-year phase of the NIHR School for Social Care Research (NIHR SSCR). Earlier this month we submitted our application to be part of the next five-year phase starting in 2024 and we await news.
We had continued success with a range of different size and type awards in 2022/23.
Our third fully funded PhD studentship was awarded to Nikita Singh, who is exploring the use of Department for Work and Pensions data to better predict use of social care services for adults with learning disabilities. Amanda Chappell’s PhD is funded through the NIHR Local Authority Fellowship route and is addressing equitable access to social care for Black and Asian communities.
Three postgraduate students won NIHR SSCR internship awards to support their final year dissertation research in key areas of adult social care. One is working on a thematic analysis of Safeguarding Adult Reviews focusing on self-neglecting behaviours in older adults in Southwest England. ‘Good Social Work Practice’ with older people who have experienced abuse in institutional settings is another topic. The role of excessive shame in undermining wellbeing in adults and the implications for practising under the Care Act (2014) is the final project.
Three early careers researchers in the School for Policy Studies won post-doctoral fellowship awards, allowing them to lead and manage the research in a Principal Investigator role with support from a senior mentor. Dr Alex Vickery will explore older men’s mental health and use of community mental wellbeing support groups. Dr Jill Powell will research the role of social network analysis in identifying unmet support needs for families supporting an adult with a learning disability within family homes. Dr Eleanor Johnson will explore the changing provision of direct care for older people in residential and home care settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other recent awards for our mid-career researchers included Dr Joe Webb leading collaborative research with University of Nottingham’s Professor Rachel Fyson, Dr Kirsten Lamb, head of the RCGP Special Interest Group for patients with learning disabilities, learning disability theatre organisation the Misfits Theatre Company and Voluntary Organisation for Disability Groups. The team are looking at the role of social care staff acting as companions in GP consultations for people with learning disabilities.
Beth Tarleton’s research will investigate how Adult and Learning Disability social workers identify parents with learning disabilities and if, how and when they work with these parents and provide them with support. Matthew Lariviere is exploring older adults’ aspirations for their digitally enabled care arrangements. Angeliki Papadaki’s work looks at the social significance of home-delivered meals among Meals on Wheels service users and their referrers.
In wider NIHR social care news, many of you will know about the study co-led by Professor Geraldine Macdonald’s – the ConnectED study: ‘Connecting Evidence with Decision Making in Adult Social Care’ (funded by NIHR Health and Social Care Delivery Research, 2021-2024). This is one of six projects funded in England to increase the use of research by decision-makers in social care.
New collaborations have been established with three local authorities, a social enterprise in social care, and a large Bristol charity for older people. The project has established the unique role of ‘Researchers in Residence’ in each agency who work with frontline practitioners (‘Evidence Champions)’ and service users and carers to address research questions that are important to them, appraise the available evidence and assess how it can best be used alongside practice wisdom and user experience.
Geraldine is also the national lead for social care for the NIHR Clinical Research Network and was also recently appointed as the first Chair of the HTA Priorisation Committee for Social Care.
In terms of current calls, the Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme is accepting Stage 1 applications to evaluate the effectiveness, implementation, and impact of social care needs assessment in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland: 23/47 Adult Social Care Needs Assessment and Care Planning offering another opportunity for potential applicants to apply for research funding. The call is open until 20 September 2023.
Finally, it’s the very last call for NIHR Research for Social Care (RfSC) – note the inclusion of children’s social care research – before it is replaced by the new social care research programme which will build on the success of RfSC, including inheriting its project portfolio, and provide increased regular funding and larger scale funding to meet the NIHR’s ambitions of cementing itself as a key funder of social care research by deepening and broadening its offer in this sector.