Public health and social care research in Wessex

What is public health and social care research?

Public health research helps to generate evidence that can improve the health of the public and reduce health inequalities. From evaluating interventions to reduce air pollution, to exploring ways to improve activity levels and nutrition in children and young people, public health studies are wide-ranging and aim to support health decision-making, leading to sustainable population level change.

Research in social care is about supporting people to live well in communities. It focuses on social care outcomes, from changes to practice or methods of support. Social care research aims to help people lead fulfilling lives and covers a range of topics, from loneliness and isolation to domestic abuse. Social care research can take place in a variety of community settings, including care homes and schools.

“Social care research has the capacity to underpin so many different areas of health care and so many different areas of peoples’ lives." - Professor Lee-Ann Fenge, CRN Wessex Social Care Specialty Lead 

Our plans

We are working alongside our health and care partners including the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Wessex to:

  1. Increase networks and raise awareness of research in public health and social care
  2. Build capacity and capability to deliver public health and social care research
  3. Grow research in public health and social care across the region, including developing our own research projects.

Get in touch

Please get in touch to discuss further:  

Professor Lee-Ann Fenge, CRN Wessex Social Care Specialty Lead.


Professor Julie Parkes, CRN Wessex Public Health Specialty Lead


Dr Zoe Sheppard, CRN Wessex Research Delivery Manager for Public Health, Social Care, Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement, and Under-Served Communities.


Resources and opportunities

  • Social Care Incubator

The Incubator provides opportunities to learn about adult social care, related research and the opportunities that exist for developing research knowledge, skills, networks and projects in the sector. 

  • Funding programme for Social Care research

The NIHR has launched a new £10m funding programme focused on social care research. The new programme will fund research which generates evidence to improve, expand and strengthen the way social care is delivered for users of care services, carers, the social care workforce, and the public.

The Research Programme for Social Care (RPSC) will replace NIHR’s Research for Social Care (RfSC) funding call.  

  • Public Health Research Programme Workshop

Hosted by NIHR Research Design Service (RDS) South Central on behalf of the RDS National Public Health Community, this workshop informs researchers about the NIHR Public Health Research Programme.

  • Supporting Social Care Research in South Central

An overview of how social care research is supported by RDS south central.

Case studies

Dr Zoe Sheppard, Research Delivery Manager for Public Health and Social Care, started at CRN Wessex in September 2022. She explains her career in research so far and what she would like to achieve in the role. 

Lee-Ann Fenge, Social Care Speciality Lead for CRN Wessex, explains her role and the social care landscape in Wessex.

Useful links

  • School for Public Health Research

Established in April 2012, the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) is a partnership between nine leading academic centres with excellence in applied public health research in England.

  • School for Social Care Research

The School for Social Care Research, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), formally began work in May 2009 and was extended in 2014. The School was refreshed in 2018 and an extension for a further five-year period was confirmed in 2019.

  • National Research Design Service

The RDS provides support to health and social care researchers across England on all aspects of developing and writing a funding application, including research design, research methods, identifying funding sources and involving patients and the public. Advice is confidential and free of charge.

  • Enabling Research In Care Homes (ENRICH)

ENRICH brings together care home staff, residents and their families with researchers. It provides a toolkit of resources to help care homes make the most of research; and researchers to set up and run studies effectively and collaboratively in care homes.

  • Skills for Care

Skills for Care is set up to work with employers, the government and partners to ensure social care has the right people, skills and support required to deliver high quality care and support.