Autistica and CareTech launch research fund to “revolutionise social care for autistic adults in the UK”

The autism research charity Autistica and specialist care provider CareTech have launched an initiative to find evidence-based improvements to the social care provision for autistic adults.

The research supported by the Social Care Action Fund aims to identify ways to ensure autistic people are at the heart of decisions about their care, and that services are personalised, safe and effective.

Over three years, Autistica will run an annual call for Grant Development Awards designed to provide researchers with seed funding to develop their proposals for further funding, totaling up to £100,000 in funding.

Autistica will also support the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) annual Research for Social Care Call by providing a total of up to £500,000 in additional top-up funding to up to five social care research studies focused on autistic adults.

The NIHR runs a £3m annual call for social care research applications, with each successful project awarded up to £350,000. The Social Care Action Fund will leverage this annual call at 3.5:1, potentially providing additional funding of up to £100,000 to up to five autism-related research studies if they are deemed fundable by the NIHR peer review process.

Autistica staff members will help researchers develop their ideas and studies with seed funding and will support them to involve autistic people in their research.

In addition, The CareTech Charitable Foundation, along with their donation of £160,000 supporting the fund, will provide researchers with care sector expertise and insights through CareTech staff involvement, workshop site visits to CareTech locations, recruitment of participants for studies, and will help ensure the Social Care Action Fund has a tangible impact on social care practice.

“CareTech Foundation is thrilled and honoured to contribute to the Social Care Action Fund and to be able to lend our expertise to the chosen research projects. Implementation of the chosen research projects into real world social care situations will be and essential part of ensuring the impact of the research on social care policies and practices for autistic adults across the UK,” said Jonathan Freeman, chief executive, CareTech Charitable Foundation.

Both organisations say that research shows that autistic people often face poor mental and physical health throughout their lives, much higher rates of early death, one of the highest rates of unemployment in society and limited social inclusion, but despite often having a high level of support needs, in particular autistic people who also have a learning disability, there has been a historic under investment in autism social care research.

“Autistic people face substantial inequalities in terms of their life expectancy, health and well-being. For many autistic people high-quality social care support is key to alleviating these inequalities, we must base this support on a solid evidence base that shows the care provided is not only safe but also that it actually improves lives. Yet barely any high-quality evidence like this exists, it is time to change this and the Social Care Action Fund is a fantastic step in the right direction,” said Lorcan Kenny, head of research, Autistica.

Date Published: April 21, 2021