Are you an adult or children’s social care professional looking to embark on a practice-based research development programme?

Do you want to make a difference to social care through undertaking high quality practice research?


If so, this programme is for you. We are pleased to announce that in October 2023, we will be delivering the first Practitioner Researcher Programme for adults and children’s social care across the North West region of England. This innovative and prestigious pilot programme provides the first step onto a practitioner researcher pathway.

If you’re curious about the nature of research into practice, have questions you want to answer or are already engaged in research in a limited way, then this programme is for you. Read on!

How will the programme support my practitioner research development?

The programme provides a dedicated space for you to consider and contribute to developing your

research capacity and research capability within social care services. It will:

  • Provide the opportunity for you to engage in and develop a network of practitioner researchers.
  • Develop, evaluate, and promote research into practice, learning and innovation.
  • Support the development of both your practice and research skills.
  • Enable you to explore research into areas of strategic importance to your employer or the education and training of the social care workforce more widely.
  • Offer you the support of an academic mentor and up to 30 days protected time.
  • Offer you an insight into the world of practitioner research.
  • Provide access to relevant learning resources.
  • Provide you further with significant developmental opportunities, including dedicated personal and group coaching.


The scheme is open to adult social care professionals who must:

Are employed by a local authority or a service commissioned by a local authority in the North West of England or

  • Are a social care professional registered with Social Work England or with the Health and Care Professions Council.
  • Have no prior formal research qualification such as a Masters degree by research, MPhil, PhD or professional doctorate (nb an MA or MSc in Social Work is not a formal research qualification)
  • Have clear potential for engaging in research that will be of benefit to service users and/or the public. This could include reviews of adult or child safeguarding processes, the use of advocates, promoting equality and social justice, examining ways to increase the stability and numbers of foster carers, and the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

What is involved? 

The key components of the programme are:

  • Up to 30 days of practitioner research activity supported by supervision from an experienced academic.
  • Participation in a residential educational programme to increase your knowledge and understanding of research and its place in the wider Local Authority, NHS and Social Care research community. The residential’s are made up of 3 x 2-day events spread out over of the 6 months duration of the programme.
  • Exploration of your personal and research development goals.

Is funding available? 

Up to £4,000.00 will be made available to successful awardees in the form of a personal award. Subject to approval by NHS R&D NW, this can be used in a variety of ways e.g. visiting experts in the field in your research question area, attendance/presentation at conferences, other reasonable expenses, purchase of research related resources.

Up to £3,000 is also available to the award holder’s employing local authority for backfill if required. This must be claimed retrospectively by the Local Authority. Evidence of expenditure incurred will be required.

An additional fee of £1,000 will be paid to the academic supervisor’s employing organisation to cover the costs of supervision.

All funding will be available for 12 months from the start of the programme, any unclaimed/unallocated money at the end of the 12 months will be returned to the scheme.

What do I need to do?

An application form can be downloaded here along with the guidance notes. They require the input of your proposed supervisor, line manager and Principal Social Worker, so we advise you not to leave it until the last moment to download an application form. Please note that if you do not have a supervisor at the point of application, NHS R&D NW will help you to identify a suitably qualified person

How do I find out more?

After having read the Guidance Notes, if you have further questions, please contact Leanne Gregory

In addition, to inform potential applicants about the programme and the application process, we will be holding 2 online Q&A sessions open to all who wish to know more about the programme. Each session will be an hour in duration and held on Teams. The dates of these sessions are;

6th June, 2pm -3pm Click here for joining link

19th June, 10am – 11am Click here for joining link

What is the deadline?

Following the submission deadline, all applications will be checked for completeness and eligibility. Eligible applications will be sent to the selection panel for consideration at the Funding Recommendation Meeting.

  • Deadline for applications Friday 14th July 2023, 5pm
  • Date of first 2-day residential 11th & 12th October, Lancaster House Hotel, Lancaster Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application via email. It can take up to 10 working days for application outcomes to be issued. Feedback can be made available to unsuccessful applicants on request. We look forward to receiving your application!