The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is to undergo a name change, becoming the National Institute for Health and Care Research, as it commits long-term to funding and supporting research projects in the social care environment.
The acronym will remain as NIHR, and the organisation will continue to remain committed to health research efforts too.
Over the last 16 years the NIHR has invested over £200m across more than 470 care research projects, with £90m going into NIHR-funded social care studies in the last three years.
Over a third of recently funded projects have been funded by the NIHR’s dedicated School for Social Care Research.
Among the research supported by the NIHR, a new approach to social care practice was developed which saw challenging behaviors among people with learning disabilities reduce in residential settings by two thirds.
Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR, said: “At NIHR, we believe that funding and supporting research that expands and strengthens the way that social care is provided is one of the most important ways to improve standards of care for people who need it. We want to support the incredible work being done on the ground by both paid and unpaid carers.
“This name change is more than symbolic. Our history of investment in social care research already tells a strong story, and today’s concrete plans to further fund and support such research is a clear affirmation of our commitment to this vital part of the health and care sector.
“It is our hope that today’s name change will inspire not just current and future generations of social care researchers, whose talent and expertise can revolutionise the social care sector, but also people who need care and support, carers, the public and those working in social care. The involvement of all these groups will be key to getting the right research to the right places in the right way.”
The NIHR has also worked to tackle the workforce shortages the social care sector has faced over recent years by investing in internships, career development awards and PhDs through the NIHR Academy and the School for Social Care Research.
To improve retention rates within the sector the existing workforce were also supported through the Local Authority Fellowship Scheme.
An increased £5m a year will be put into dedicated social care research with some of the funding going towards an additional call ran through the Research for Social Care programme.
The programme funds research to improve and expand on the way adult social care is delivered; not only for carers themselves but also for people they care for.
Working in partnership with the Department for Education, from now this new research will be committed to funding much-needed research in social care for children and young people.
A Social Care Rapid Evaluation funding call has been launched by the Health and Social Care Delivery Research Programme which will build new teams to deliver quick reviews of innovations seen within the social care sector.
Minister for Innovation, Lord Kamall, added: “We want to see the UK continue to be a catalyst of innovation for health and care research from rapidly creating new vaccines to advancing new research to improve the effectiveness of social care, such as developing best practice for supporting people with learning disabilities.
“NIHR’s name change and this additional funding will ensure we remain at the forefront of ground-breaking research in both health and social care.
“I encourage researchers, social care users and practitioners to get involved with social care research. Research is a key way to identify and address current challenges to improve the lives of carers and people receiving social care.”
You can find out more about the NIHRs social care research here.