University of Sheffield to be part of leading new centre to implement evidence in adult social care

24th March 2021

A new, first-of-its-kind research centre for adult social care will bring together academic expertise and those working in adult social care to promote the use of high-quality research and practice-based evidence to support innovation in social care.

The University of Sheffield is a key partner with other key UK stakeholders in the development of the new IMPACT Centre (Improving Adult Care Together) led by the University of Birmingham.

The centre will receive £15 million of funding over the next six years from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation and the Health Foundation, to support innovation and best practice within adult social care and promote people’s independence and wellbeing.

Adult social care covers a wide range of short and long-term programmes and therapies to help people who are older, or living with disability or physical or mental illness, to live independently and stay well and safe.

Nearly 850,000 people in the UK receive adult social care, which can include being supported in their own homes, communities, or residential settings such as care homes. It includes a wide range of assistance, such as help with daily activities like washing and dressing, support for family and friends, rehabilitation and reintegration to communities and long-term nursing care.

Operating across the UK, and drawing on UK-wide learning, the IMPACT will:

  • Lead the way in helping people working in adult social care, carers, and the people they support make better use of practice-based evidence to support innovation in adult social care interventions
  • Build capacity and skills in the adult social care workforce
  • Help develop sustainable and productive relationships between everyone working in adult social care, including providers, commissioners and policy experts
  • Improve our understanding of what helps or hinders when putting research evidence into practice
  • Improve the transition of patients from children’s services into adult social care, as well as its interfaces with other services such as health, housing and education.

Professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield, Sue Yeandle, will be IMPACT’s Deputy Director, working with a wide range of academic, policy, practice partners, and people with lived experience of using social care services. She will help lead the way to help develop a programme of innovation and improvement for adult social care in the UK.

She said: “This is an exciting development, and comes at a crucial moment. IMPACT will work across the UK, listening to what people affected by adult social care have to say.

“We’ll bring all kinds of evidence together – lived experience, the expertise of people working in social care, findings from the latest and best research. Then we’ll work together to address vital issues – reducing loneliness among the very old; including and supporting people with dementia; enabling people with learning difficulties to lead active lives; giving carers a break when needed.

“There’s huge potential for making a difference when people work together as IMPACT will do.” 

Jon Glasby, Professor of Health and Social Care at the University of Birmingham is IMPACT’s Director and will be working with Professor Yeandle, leading its co-development, establishment and delivery.

He 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.”

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.”

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.

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