The University of Birmingham part of new research network to identify solutions to UK social care crisis

A new research project including researchers from the School of Social Policy here at the University of Birmingham will examine potential sustainable solutions to the ongoing crisis within the UK’s social care system.

Key strands within the research will include Professor Jenny Phillimore and Dr Kelly Hall’s work around migration, superdiversity and care, Professor Jon Glasby and Dr Matt Bennett’s work on the future costs of social care and Professor Catherine Needham’s work comparing care systems across the four nations of the UK.

With an ageing population, shortages of staff in home and residential care, and growing reliance on unpaid carers, the question of how to resource and deliver social care is a critical issue facing society today.

The Sustainable Care Research Programme, led by Professor Sue Yeandle from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Sociological Studies, will bring together academics from seven universities, and will take an international approach to identifying solutions to this crisis.

Working with an extended network of international academic partners in 15 other countries, the project will take a future-oriented and internationally comparative look at current approaches to the care needs of adults living at home with chronic health problems or disabilities, examining these in the context of care systems, care work and care relationships.

Researchers will investigate how these approaches can be made economically and socially sustainable while still delivering positive outcomes for care users, for families and carers and for care workers.

Professor Saul Becker, Head of the College of Social Sciences and Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Birmingham, said: "I am delighted that the University of Birmingham will be part of this exciting and important research programme. It is vital that we continue to develop a research-informed understanding of how to establish social care on a more sustainable footing, and this work will be crucial to doing that."

The network, which has been awarded Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Large Grant funding valued at £2.5 million, to which UK and international partners are contributing additional resources, will examine experience in the UK’s four national systems of social care.

It will look at how emerging technologies such as apps and smart assistive devices could transform social care. It will also examine the role of migrant care workers in the UK and internationally, and how innovative home care models could help the sector become more sustainable.

The findings of the project will feed directly into the charity, Carers UK, and help influence policy at local, national and international levels to improve how care is planned, resourced, organised and delivered.

The Sustainable Care Research Programme is one of five new innovative multidisciplinary projects announced by the ESRC this week.

Professor Jane Elliott, ESRC Chief Executive, said: "Society faces real challenges in the coming years. Not only are we entering extensive negotiations on Brexit but we also need to address the pressures on our health and social care systems, and continued inequalities across the UK. These projects are all directly relevant to the challenges ahead and demonstrate the important contribution that social science can make to society and the individuals within it."