CRIPACC Current research highlights

Creative Learning Abilities PartnerShips (CLAPS)

The aim of this innovative project is to make time and space, for researchers and people with mild to moderate learning disabilities, autistic people and the communities that support them, to learn together creating equal partnerships to develop future research whilst working in an enjoyable way.  Our project is in collaboration with two Mencap organisations – Barnet Mencap and Lowestoft and District Mencap –and Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation University NHS Trust.

This project is important because people with learning disabilities and autistic people often experience poor physical and mental health and health inequalities.  Also, they are often not included in research, so research outcomes often don’t meet their needs/wishes and services informed by the research do not improve.  In this project, we want to celebrate the abilities that people have and support new opportunities for people with mild to moderate learning disabilities and/or autism and the people who care for them, to become involved in health and social care research.

We are using a creative arts approach, as an innovative way to engage with Mencap members, making research more accessible and enjoyable. Breaking down barriers between universities/researchers and the public to include more diverse, previously underserved populations, proving anyone can help designing and carrying out research in partnerships with universities.

Using arts can explore important questions or barriers to health and social care. Arts includes painting/drawing, music, dance, poetry, writing, drama, growing plants, photography, video and much more. Learning continuously what works and what does not, whilst creating trusting relationships and research partnerships. We will share our learning and create a plan for working together as equal partners in future research.

This project has joint leads - Professor Julia Jones and Amander Wellings. Amander is an experience Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) contributor and lifelong family carer of a person with learning disabilities. The joint lead approach is important to the project team, for shared learning, decision making and ensuring the perspectives of people with lived experience are prominent in the project.

This is a Programme Development Grant for Developing Innovative Public Partnerships, funded by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR).


Kathryn Almack, Professor of Family Lives and Care is leading aspects of an Economic and Social Care (ERSC) funded project (ES/W012774/1) IncludeAge. The Lead of IncludeAge is Professor Judith Sixsmith at the University of Dundee. This is one of six projects around the UK funded as part of the ESRC/UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge, Social, Behavioural and Design Research Programme. Other project partners include Liverpool John Moores University and University of Edinburgh as well as VCSE partners Sleeping Giants, Opening Doors, Dudley Voices for Choice, National Development Team for Inclusion, Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities and Outside the Box.

This study is exploring middle to older aged (40+ years old) people with Learning Disabilities and LGBT+ people’s experiences of inclusion and belonging in physical places and online spaces in England, Wales and Scotland. Information gained will be used to develop practical solutions and policy recommendations with people with Learning Disabilities and LGBT+ people to improve inclusion and belonging within local and online communities.

Community inclusion is considered a human right and central to living meaningful everyday lives. However, experiences of place and belonging of middle to older aged people with Learning Disabilities and/or who are LGBT+ are poorly understood. Without understanding their perspectives, middle to older aged people with Learning Disabilities and/or who are LGBT+ may experience social and health inequalities. This project works to reduce these negative outcomes by generating knowledge and possible solutions that can be used by decision-makers to improve opportunities for inclusion in everyday places and spaces.

IncludeAge is committed to making the project as inclusive as possible. We are working with middle to older aged people with Learning Disabilities and LGBT+ people so that their voices help to shape the project from start to finish. We also involve Learning Disability and LGBT+ advocacy groups, charities, and support services to make sure our project produces information that is relevant and useful. Our promise is to champion inclusion by doing research with people and not on them through collaboration, shared learning, mutual respect, and equitable opportunities.

Enhancing research capacity in adult social care in the East of England: The SCRiPT study

Enhancing research capacity in adult social care in the East of England: The SCRiPT study

The University of Hertfordshire in collaboration with the University of East Anglia has been awarded funding of almost £1 million by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to build research capacity in adult social care services across Hertfordshire and Norfolk. Over one million adults in the UK receive personal and practical care and assistance from social care for a wide range of reasons, including critical support for age-related issues, health conditions, and disabilities. In partnership with Hertfordshire County Council and Norfolk County Council, the researchers will establish four new Social Care Research in Practice Teams (RiPTs). The team members will receive funding to enhance their research skills and confidence, and to design and implement new research projects to advance social care in the region. Part of their research training will be through the successful and well-established ARC Fellows scheme, led by Christine Hill. The team is also working with the NIHR Clinical Research Network Eastern in developing other parts of the training programme. The user-led organisation, Shaping Our Lives, will support the RiPTs to ensure experts by experience are involved in the projects and the resulting research is inclusive and relevant for local users of social care services. The overall aim is to evaluate if the RiPT model can mobilise research learning and promote the undertaking of research that reflects the priorities and challenges of the populations social care serve.

One of six similar schemes across England funded by the NIHR, the project also provides more opportunities for collaboration between social care practitioners in Hertfordshire and Norfolk. Participants will benefit from opportunities to share skills and best practices with colleagues from a range of areas of social care.

Kathryn Almack, Professor of Family Lives and Care project lead at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding that will enable us to significantly raise the profile of research within the field of adult social care. It is fantastic to have investment from the NIHR and backing from senior figures in Hertfordshire and Norfolk County Councils.”

The project partners are University of Hertfordshire (lead), University of East Anglia, Kings College London, Hertfordshire County Council, Norfolk County Council, NIHR Applied Research Collaboration East of England, Shaping our Lives.

Find out more on the official SCRIPT study website.

The University of Hertfordshire-led NIHR Public Health Interventions Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST)

The University of Hertfordshire has been named as one of four academic research partners for a NIHR (National Institute Health Research) scheme, to evaluate local authority public health schemes that aim to improve health in local communities and reduce health inequalities in the UK.

As part of the NIHR’s Public Health Research Programme, the four Public Health Interventions Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRSTs) will connect with local authorities to facilitate, guide and evaluate their non-NHS public health interventions schemes. The programme will enable local authorities to access research expertise and build further evidence bases for innovative new health intervention schemes.

Find out more on the official PHIRST website.

Developing research resources, And minimum data set for Care Home's Adoption and use (#DACHA_study)

The University of Hertfordshire is leading a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded four-year DACHA study to improve how researchers, health and social care services can use existing data to improve the care and quality of life for care home residents, families and staff.

Over £2.2 million has been awarded for the study - Developing research resources and minimum data set for care homes' adoption and use – which will address the need to develop robust systems that support how all the different services and individuals (e.g. care staff, NHS professionals, family, regulators, social services) work together for residents’ benefit.

The study will review how current health and social care systems work, what “good” looks like, explore the evidence on how to integrate data and test what a minimum dataset would need to be the key resource for all those working in and for care homes. The findings have the potential to deliver a step-change in how we understand the needs of the care home population. This could be a resource that supports the provision of high quality care across the country.

The study is a joint collaboration between Claire Goodman, Professor of Health Care Research, NIHR Senior Investigator at the University of Hertfordshire and Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society’s, which is partnering with NIHR on the project.  The study will tackle a major unmet need and provide a greater understanding of how the care system as a whole can ensure people with dementia in care homes receive the best quality care

The study, which is due to start in November 2019, will bring together 12* other institutions working collaboratively to develop reciprocal systems of working between the NHS and care homes that optimise current provision and research on its effectiveness.

Find out more on the official DACHA Study website.

Hertfordshire Public Health Connect

Hertfordshire Public Health Connect is a partnership between the University of Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire County Council Public Health Department. Hertfordshire Public Health Connect aims to bring together information about excellent public health research, practice and education for all professionals and students involved in Public Health in Hertfordshire and the East of England.

Hostile Environments: Migration and Food Poverty in the UK

New research led by Dr Laura Hamilton (Research Fellow in Food and Public Health) reveals the acute severity of food poverty experienced by migrant families who have ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) in the UK. Citizens Advice estimate that 1.4 million people have the NRPF condition attached to their immigration status, meaning they have limited access to state support, even in times of crisis. Commissioned by The Food Foundation, this research aimed to understand the challenges experienced by families with NRPF in affording and accessing food. The participants included  affected families and the organisations that support them, including front-line services, advocacy and campaign groups.

The findings reveal how living with NRPF is fraught with a ‘perpetual state of uncertainty, hostility and hardship’ that can last for months or years, requiring ongoing support from charities and advocacy groups. This has immediate and long-term impacts on diet, health and quality of life. Some organisations expressed the view that the immigration system was deliberately designed to be ‘hostile’ and complex to discourage people from settling in the UK. The findings from this study can be found in the full report, ‘Hostile Environments: Immigration and Food Poverty in the UK’.