Ulster University to be part of leading brand new Centre to implement evidence in adult social care

24 March 2021

Ulster University to be part of leading brand new Centre to implement evidence in adult social care

Ulster University will be partnering with the University of Birmingham, as part of a broader consortium of key stakeholders from across the four nations of the UK, to develop a brand new Centre for adult social care, which will aim to put evidence into practice to promote and maintain people’s independence and wellbeing.

The new Centre called IMPACT (Improving Adult Care Together) has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, and the Health Foundation, and will be the first Centre of its kind in the UK.

The Centre will:

  • Lead the way in helping people working in adult social care, carers, and the people they support make better use of high-quality, practice-based evidence to support innovation in adult social care
  • Build capacity and skills in the adult social care workforce
  • Help develop sustainable and productive relationships between all of those working across adult social care
  • Improve our understanding of what helps or hinders when putting evidence into practice

The Centre will receive funding of £15 million over the next six years, with equal contributions from ESRC and the Health Foundation.

Ulster University will be part of the Leadership Team of the new Centre, working with a wide range of academic, policy and practice partners, carers and people with lived experience of using social care services to help develop and lead a programme of innovation and improvement.

Jon Glasby, Professor of Health and Social Care at the University of Birmingham who has been appointed as IMPACT’s director and will be working with a range of partners from across the UK to lead the co-development, establishment and delivery of the centre said:

“Adult social care touches people’s lives in such important and intimate ways, and it’s crucial that it’s based on the best possible evidence of what works. 

“Good care isn’t just about services, it’s about having a life – and the ESRC and the Health Foundation are providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a real difference.”

Deirdre Heenan, Professor of Social Policy at Ulster University:

“I am delighted to lead this major initiative for Northern Ireland and to work with colleagues and stakeholders across all four nations. I believe that IMPACT represents a unique opportunity to effect real change in social care particularly at a time when the sector has been so stretched. If there are to be positives to take from this global pandemic, it should rightfully be a renewed focus on this underfunded and undervalued sector. The funding of £15million from ESRC, one of the largest ever investments by the organisation, means that this renewed focus can bring to bear real benefit for those who rely on social care and need it the most.”

ESRC Executive Chair, Professor Alison Park, said:

“The complex nature of the social care system means that frontline practice does not always benefit sufficiently from the evidence we already have about what works.

“The increased implementation of evidence-based innovations and improvements in adult social care are crucial to ensuring better outcomes for the many people who use these services, and their carers and families. Finding a way to make this happen is challenging – but the prize, in terms of improvements to adult social care, makes it essential.”

Will Warburton, Director of Improvement, the Health Foundation, said:

“The fragmented nature of the adult social care sector poses real challenges for ensuring the consistent provision of evidence-based, high quality care and support.

“The IMPACT Centre will work alongside people with experience of care, carers, commissioners and providers to develop practical support that will increase the use of high-quality research evidence in the adult social care sector across the UK.”

Recognising the combined value of good practice and robust evidence from different sources, the Centre will bring together people with lived experience of social care, those providing unpaid care, people working in adult social care, experts in the mobilisation and implementation of evidence, social care providers, commissioners and policy experts, and academic teams from across the UK.

Together with stakeholders in adult social care and beyond, the IMPACT team will agree priorities and design, establish, deliver and evaluate the Centre’s work programme, aiming to lead to sustainable change in the use of evidence in adult social care.

The Centre will receive phased funding until 2027, and builds on previous ESRC investments in social care including the Sustainable Care Research Programme, and ESRC’s Innovation in Social Care Initiative. The Centre has been funded by ESRC through UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF).


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