University of York: Unique partnership involving residents, councils and universities join forces to tackle social care issues

The University of York is leading a unique partnership that will bring together residents, local authorities and leading researchers to tackle some of the big issues around social care.

The four-year Curiosity Partnership has received more than £1m from the National Institute for Health and Care Research to address some of the key issues around social care in the region, including:

how to support people to live independently at home
living with dementia
Issues around loneliness and isolation for older people
how can we help older people live life to the full, even in the presence of frailty, health or memory problems

The local authorities of York, Doncaster, North Yorkshire and Hull will join leading academics from the universities of York, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle to spearhead the partnership.

The project team will explore research priorities and train up council staff and academics in research techniques.

They will also ask local residents to take part in the project to help decide what the big research questions should be and join specialist teams to help answer them.

Professor Yvonne Birks at the University of York’s Social Policy Unit, said: “We are thinking big and thinking differently when it comes to the future of social care, and we are hoping local communities can play their part in this incredibly important project.”

“The Government has invested heavily in health research, but less so in social care. Social care research is now a high priority but councils and universities need to build capacity and infrastructure to deliver ambitious research for the future.”


Gemma Laister, Principal Social Worker, Hull City Council Adult Social Care, said: “Hull City Council are delighted and excited to be part of this innovative partnership, increasing capacity for research in conjunction with the communities within Hull.

“Evidence based research is essential to the continued development of Adult Social Care, delivering positive and effective outcomes, and so the voice of the community within this is paramount. We are really looking forward to the evolution of this project and championing opportunities and interest in research within our area.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care at City of York Council, said: “Residents have told us that they want to live independently in their own homes for as long as they can.

“Delivering the support that enables residents to do that comes from working with community and voluntary organisations, to co-design local solutions, together with providing statutory services.

“We’re delighted to bring our experience and expertise to the Curiosity Partnership to research new ways to support our residents.”


Cllr Michael Harrison, executive member for adult services at NYCC, said: “Social care is one of our greatest challenges; therefore we are delighted to be involved in this four year research project alongside colleagues elsewhere in the region, to better understand the issues our residents face daily.

“The social care needs of the population are as important to us as it is to those who benefit from assistance and we hope this research will inform decisions that enable people to live independently for longer through better care and support.”

Phil Holmes, Director of Adults, Health and Wellbeing (DASS) at Doncaster Council, said: “We are extremely proud to have a role in this research partnership which will provide invaluable evidence to help shape the future of adult social care.

“The partnership seeks to deliver collaboratively with social care staff and, even more importantly, people within our communities who can help us learn from their experiences of the social care system.”