Researcher wins one of 12 new NIHR social care research grants

Dr Louise Denne, Senior Research Fellow at Warwick University’s Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR) has been awarded one of 12 new research grants from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for a project which helps teach adults with intellectual disabilities how to read.

Dr Denne and her team have developed READ-IT, a programme based around an online reading package with additional support which teaches early reading skills to adults with intellectual disabilities. Reading skills are one of the keys to independence and a better quality of life – for example by being able to carry out everyday activities without the help of someone else. The NIHR funding will enable them to design a larger study to evaluate the programme.

The grant is one of 12 totalling £2.5 million, supporting new research into social care, as part of NIHR’s commitment to improving social care through high quality evidence and building capacity for research in this field.

Commenting on the award, Dr Denne said “It is exciting to be taking part in this – the first NIHR social care funding call. Teaching skills to adults with intellectual disability is an under-researched area and has the potential to increase quality of life for the individual as well as their families.”

The new funding was driven by the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) programme’s 2018 funding call for research focused on adult social care, which received a great response from the research community.

Following this successful call, the NIHR will be investing in future social care research with annual funding calls via the RfPB programme, under the banner of Research for Social Care (RfSC). The RfSC call, planned to launch in September, will have a budget of £3m.

The funding is part of NIHR’s ongoing efforts to build and improve social care research in England. In November 2018 the organisation announced that it will fund a third phase of the NIHR School for Social Care Research, with just under £20 million committed over 5 years. This includes £1.8 million specifically targeted on building research capacity, with PhDs, career development awards and internships planned.

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.”

A selection of the newly-funded projects are summarised below.

Stacey Rand, University of Kent – £150,000

Mrs Rand’s 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. The researchers are testing a questionnaire they’ve designed that carers can fill out on behalf of a close friend or relative with dementia, to help understand how different services affect their lives, as well as a version for carers themselves. They want to make sure the questionnaires are easy to complete and collect the right information – helping to understand which services help these people the most.

Professor Chris Hatton, University of Lancaster – £350,000

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