New Funding To Improve ‘Overlooked’ Social Care Sector In East Midlands

A leading applied health research organisation has received funding to enhance and broaden its research initiatives in the realm of social care by meeting the needs of “under-served” communities across the East Midlands.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands has been awarded funding to launch LiLaC – a living lab model comprised of academics working with frontline staff in care and domiciliary homes to address key issues.

From Monday, April 1, researchers and social care staff will work together for two years to identify real-world practice problems that can be resolved with research, which they will then co-design and co-produce.

Working in collaboration with the University of Nottingham and the Centre for Ethnic Health Research, NIHR ARC East Midlands will receive nearly £260,000 in funding to improve the organisation’s social care research.

Adam Gordon, Workstream Lead for the Building Communication and Enabling Resilience Theme within the NIHR ARC East Midlands and Professor of the Care of Older People at the University of Nottingham, said: “As we embark on expanding our social care research, prioritising the development of research capacity in practice is paramount.

“It is crucial to address the historical exclusion of older people receiving domiciliary care from research efforts. Engaging them in our living lab is a vital step in identifying methodologies that will enhance and encourage fuller participation from this under-served demographic.”

Since 2020, NIHR ARC East Midlands has worked with four care homes in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to help them engage in prioritisation, design and delivery of research.

In this time, they have piloted a living lab model to develop an embedded approach to research development, focusing on the priorities of residents and staff. They have developed and tested four practice linking pins, one in each care home.

The new Social Care Capacity Building funding will allow the team to build on these foundations by:

  • Expanding this to include Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) – broadening geographical reach and increasing the socioeconomic and ethnic diversity of the populations served
  • Extending membership to include domiciliary care providers in addition to care homes – developing LiLaC by extending the network to comprise six care homes and six domiciliary care providers (two of each provider category for each of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and LLR).

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Director of the NIHR ARC East Midlands and Professor of Primary Care, Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “With the launch of LiLaC, the NIHR ARC East Midlands team is pioneering a transformative approach to enhance social care in our region.

“The process commences with proactive visits from the academic linking pin to frontline care providers, emphasising relationship-building before swiftly delving into discussions about frontline care priorities.”

He added: “This innovative strategy reflects our commitment to fostering meaningful connections and addressing the pressing needs of our community.”










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