NIHR Programme Development Grants - Social care call


  • NIHR Programme Development Grants (PDG) is inviting applications aimed at strengthening adult social care research across England.

    The PDG social care call seeks research proposals that address the challenges and aim to improve the evidence base for adult social care (including the transition from children’s to adult services).

    PDGs are available to carry out preparatory work to develop a future Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) research application on adult social care. They can also be obtained to further develop an existing or ongoing programme of research to explore social care perspectives arising from the programme.

    Applications to the PDG social care call should be made with the support of an NHS body or other provider of NHS services in England. If an application is successful, a contract will be placed with that organisation for delivery of the research. All funds for the research will be paid to the NHS organisation or other provider of NHS services to administer and distribute to the collaborating organisations.

    The submission deadline for applications is 1pm on 24 November 2021.

    For further details, please visit the PDG Social care call specification page.


NIHR Programme Development Grants (PDG) invites proposals to address the challenges within adult social care and aim to improve the evidence base for adult social care. We are particularly interested in applications that include users of social care, focus on populations and communities with high support/care needs, or have historically been under-served by research activity, and address equality, diversity and inclusion. Involvement of relevant social care providers, social care professionals (including managers and commissioners) and carers is also welcome, as is consideration of self-funders.

Adult social care is a strategic priority for the NIHR1, and it currently supports a range of social care research across a variety of funding opportunities, including but not limited to: the Research for Social Care (RfSC) call, Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) programme, the School for Social Care Research (SSCR) and various Policy Research Units (PRUs) amongst other funding opportunities.

This PDG funding call is an opportunity for new applicants or existing Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) award holders to submit proposals that aim to address the challenges and improve the evidence base for adult social care.


The call’s scope seeks proposals that address the challenges and aims to improve the evidence base for adult social care (including the transition from children’s to adult services). In particular, those that have an emphasis on the delivery of research findings that will have practical benefit to the social care system, people supported by social care, carers and future service users.

To support this aim, the NIHR PDG programme is inviting proposals aimed at strengthening adult social care research across England. The call encourages proposals addressing a range of adult social care topics, including but not limited to:

  • Social care inequalities
  • ‘Unmet’ social care needs
  • New and/or innovative models of care
  • The needs of self–funders and their families
  • End-of-life care
  • Housing related support
  • Employment related support
  • Family carers, unpaid carers and carer support
  • Social care practice and workforce
  • Social prescribing and other approaches to working, such as strengths- and assets-based approaches
  • Economic analyses of social care services and systems
  • Interventions to help tackle loneliness and isolation.
  • Interventions to promote well-being
  • Transitions between self-funded and local authority-funded care
  • Transitions and interactions between health and social care and other systems
  • Transition from children’s to adult social care services

When preparing proposals, applicants should seek to highlight the way in which the proposal, and any future PGfAR award:

  • Clearly demonstrates how social care service users and/or carers and care providers are involved and engaged in the research, and how the proposed research is relevant to them.
  • Addresses the social care requirements, with a focus on relevant outcomes if appropriate, of specific populations, communities and/or individuals with high support/care needs.
  • Develops or evaluates the evidence base for current or new ways of working and/or providing social care.
  • Builds on existing evidence or practices within social care, and aims to make a step change to practice and/or outcomes.
  • Addresses stated local national priorities for policy, practice, and the user community.
  • Includes clear plans for implementation, knowledge mobilisation and dissemination.
  • Addresses equality, diversity and inclusion issues throughout the research design.



The call is open to researchers wishing to undertake either:

  1. preparatory work for a future programme of adult social care research eligible for funding by PGfAR
  2. to further develop an existing or ongoing PGfAR award to conduct work to explore social care perspectives arising from the programme.

For the latter, applications are only permitted from applicants whose PGfAR contracts are finishing before 1 January 2022, or have finished in the past 18 months.

Proposals should fall within the remit of the PDG scheme. Applicants should note that this call falls under the current rules for eligible host organisations of PGfAR and PDG awards outlined in the introduction section of our supporting information for applicants.


Up to £500,000 will be available for this call.

Individual grants can be up to £150,000 for 6 to 12 months. Projects must be prepared to start in January 2022. The amount of funding awarded, however, is determined by the scale and nature of the research or development activity to be conducted.

There is no formal expectation or guarantee that the recipients of PDGs will be successful in obtaining a subsequent Programme Grant award in the future. All future applications for PGfAR will be judged on their own merits against the published criteria.


PDGs have a one stage application process. We offer guidance for applicants wishing to:

  1. undertake preparatory work to develop a PGfAR in social care
  2. further develop a social care component to an existing PGfAR award.

Applicants should also consult the supporting information for applicants.

Proposals are submitted online through the Central Commissioning Research Management System (RMS). We supply a Word document version of the online application form (.DOCX – Word) to help researchers prepare their proposal ahead of submission. Only applications submitted online via the RMS will be accepted, however information can be copied from the Word template into the online application form. Please take care to comply with the maximum word counts.

The deadline for submission of the PDG application is 1 pm on 24 November 2021. Applications submitted beyond this deadline will not be considered.