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Creating Care Partnerships

This research aims to improve adult social care (ASC) by reducing the gap between those delivering services and those undertaking research. It uses the Research Practice Partnership (RPP) model to develop sustainable partnerships between social care research and practice.

Funded by: National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Partners: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Sheffield Hallam University, London School of Economics and Political Science, The Point of Care Foundation, Research in Practice, Iriss, Walnut Care Limited, Shaping Our Lives

Project team leads: Professor Annette Boaz (LSHTM)

Lab4Living team: Joe Langley, Rebecca Partridge, Ursula Ankeny, Naomi Raszyk

The Creating Care Partnerships project aims to explore how investment in ASC research can be optimised to support improvements for people with lived experience of social care services. The project focuses on the Research Practice Partnership (RPP) model as a solution to this problem. The project will develop a clear understanding of the RPP model so we can co-design, implement and then evaluate novel, sustainable partnerships between social care research and practice.


Despite significant investment in ASC research in the UK, there is a growing concern that this research is not always seen as relevant to practitioners and agencies. This problem has been highlighted across policy domains and geographical areas (Boaz et al 2019). It is recognised that activities and interventions are needed to support the mobilisation and application of research to improve practice. Research Practice Partnerships are long-term collaborations between researchers and people working in social care that focus on doing and using research in practice. This approach has been tried and tested in the US, Australia and New Zealand with promising results. This project provides an opportunity to set up and evaluate these partnerships designed to: increase capacity among researchers to understand diverse practice contexts, to build capacity among practitioners to use research to inform in their practice, to understand research and the funding context and to build relationships and trust between researchers and practitioners.  It is anticipated that RPPs will increase high quality adult social care research applications to funders, from teams with a track record of working together.


There are three phases to this project:

  • Design: Develop a RPP approach and then establish three new RPPs in ASC in the UK.
  • Implementation: Support the sites with the implementation and ongoing running of the RPP.
  • Sustainability: Looking at adaptations, re-design, scale and spread.

Alongside these phases will be a comprehensive evaluation to explore the implementation, effectiveness, costs and economic value of Adult Social Care RRPs.

Phase One

Initially, we conducted a review of the literature. Next, we have hosted a series of online workshops with international experts in research practice partnerships from other sectors (e.g. education). We used these to develop a model of RPPs appropriate for adult social care in the UK.

Read Joe Langley’s Researcher blog: Guest editing a Special Issue for Evidence & Policy during COVID

Phase Two

We have recruited three UK sites interested in establishing RPP between academics and providers of ASC. These are:

  • University of Chester and Halton Borough Council;
  • Edge Hill University and Community Integrated Care;
  • Newcastle University and Eothen Care Homes.

We are currently applying the RPP model at each of these sites in a local co-design process. An evaluation is ongoing with each site to learn about works and what doesn’t in relation to the RPP ways of working.

Phase Three

In Phase Three we will be taking the learnings from Phase Two to enable other people to establish RPPs in adult social care in the UK. An ongoing challenge is finding a balance between online and in person activities.