Social Care

Person-centred, community based social care.

Research Leads:

Professor Julian Forder, University of Kent, Social Care Theme Lead

Rebecca Sharp, Implementation Manager, Social Care -

Social Care Motif
Social Care Showcase


The demand for social care is rising, with an ageing population and changes in family caring availability.  Our aim is to undertake research on social care and explore how changes in service provision impacts on service users, their families, carers and others.  We will focus on four main research sub-themes:

1.  We are keen to identify, evaluate and implement new and innovative models of person-centred social care. There has been a resurgence in the idea of strength-based and community-based models of care and we are keen to work with our Co-production theme to identify potential new models and appropriate methods for evaluation.  Working with our Primary & Community Care theme we will also look at Integrated Care, recognising that people using social care are likely to be using a range of other services including health.  We are also keen to work with our Digital theme to harness the use of technology.

2.  We will look to work with partners to explore the variation in the drivers and risk factors for care, and also variation in peoples access to care across the region.  Whilst some variation maybe justifiable to reflect local circumstances, other variation may be unwarranted.  We will work with the public to understand what the needs are and enable better targeted care and support.   We will also work with our partners on the development and access to good data-sets to support our understanding.

3.  Thinking of the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of person-centred social care, we will deploy research evidence to inform improvements in supply, funding and organisation of care across the Kent, Surrey and Sussex region to improve person outcomes.

4.    We will work with our Health and Social Care Economics theme, local and national partners to help develop an understanding of cost effectiveness of person-centred social care and social work activity.  We will build this into the evaluation and implementation of our research.

Looking back

During our first year of operation we have worked across our themes on a number of Covid-19 related research programmes, these include:

  • How can community-based care settings be supported in receiving new and returning clients, during the pandemic?  Led by our Public Health theme, the original study was focussed on supporting assimilation of returning older adults into residential and domiciliary care settings.  This project has since developed into a cross-institutional, interdisciplinary collaboration, and expanded to look at relationships between transmission and care and working practices.

  • To develop and implement culturally appropriate living resources on COVID-19 to support BAME communities, recognising that current public health guidance around COVID-19 is mostly in dominant languages and lacks cultural nuance.  This study focussed on older Indian and Nepalese community members and their families across Kent, Surrey & Sussex, together with health and care professionals working with these communities.
  • Community-based volunteering in response to COVID-19. In response to pressures on health and care services and the number of vulnerable people required to self-isolate due to COVID-19, there has been an unprecedented response both in terms of requests for volunteers and also those signing up to offer support.  This study looked at the impact of community-based volunteering on recipients, volunteers and the health and care system.  The key findings and recommendations from the study will look to support and develop a more integrated health and social care system that includes a responsive and resilient voluntary and community sector.     

These studies are now moving into implementation and dissemination stage and we will be sharing our findings across our network. 

We have supported a number of Social Care related research bids, covering development of: research capacity in social care; integrated and linked data-sets to support research in social care; and other care evaluation.

We have engaged and collaborated with many of our stakeholders across the region, introducing the ARC and starting to map current services and demographic data.  This will help to inform our future research programmes and priorities.

Future focus

Our aim is to talk to people locally and hear the voice of our public, service users and carers to understand what is needed to improve adult social care, this includes marginalised groups and those who are self-funding.  It is also to hear from practitioners, providers of services and those who commission services, and to seek their view on future service provision and challenges. 

We will also look to scope what research is already available or underway, with a view to supporting the implementation of high quality, research evidence into practice.

We will also work with our Capacity Building theme and our partners to build research capacity, and develop a sustainable research workforce with expertise in practice and academic environments.

National priorities programme on adult social care and social work
The National Institute for Health Research has commissioned applied research in a number of national priority areas from seven consortia of ARCs to help solve the most pressing issues facing health and social care today.  NIHR ARC Kent Surrey and Sussex  is leading the national priorities programme on adult social care and social work. 

Current Project

Community-based Volunteering in response to Covid-19

The study, ‘Community-based volunteering in response to COVID-19: the COV-VOL project’, funded by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS), took place during the first lockdown, to look at how the volunteer workforce had rapidly and safely engaged in the community and to determine what impact they had on the older people they supported.

Read all about it here

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