25th March 2021

ESRC and Health Foundation set up new £15m centre to use evidence to improve adult social care in Wales and rest of UK

A brand new national centre for adult social care will set out to put evidence from across the UK into practice to promote and maintain people’s independence and wellbeing.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the charity, the Health Foundation, have joined forces to support the creation of a centre called IMPACT (Improving Adult Care Together).

It 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 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.

Recognising the combined value of good practice and robust evidence from different sources, the centre will bring together a range of people from across the UK to help achieve its aims. These include: people with lived experience of social care, people providing unpaid care, people working in adult social care, experts in the mobilisation and implementation of research 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.

Professor Kieran Walshe, Director of Health and Care Research Wales, said:

“Through the pandemic, we’ve seen the research community, NHS and social care sector working together to achieve collective goals.  The new IMPACT centre embodies this collaborative approach, driving efficiency and innovation.

“Health and Care Research Wales is looking forward to working with the IMPACT team, contributing Welsh data, experience and perspective to enable lifechanging developments for everyone across Wales and the UK.”

Sue Evans, Chief Executive at Social Care Wales, said: “Great quality adult social care is fundamental to supporting people to live the best life they can.  A core part of Social Care Wales’s role is to support people working in social care to access, understand and use the best available evidence to inform the way care and support is delivered. The new centre will provide valuable expertise and support for our work and we look forward to collaborating with the team to identify the best ways to improve outcomes for people in Wales.”

Professor Jon Glasby of the University of Birmingham has been appointed as IMPACT’s director. Working with a range of partners from across the UK, he will lead the co-development, establishment and delivery of the centre.

Professor Jon Glasby 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.”

The centre will receive phased funding until 2027.