The PSSRU was established at the University of Kent at Canterbury in October 1974 by Professor Bleddyn Davies. In 1996, two additional branches of the PSSRU were established at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Manchester. Over this period, PSSRU received funding from the UK Department of Health (DH) to undertake a substantial programme of work, building on and benefiting from previous work. In early 2011 this DH core programme came to end. Although all three PSSRU sites continue to use the same name, a result of funding changes PSSRU at Manchester is in effect now a separate entity from PSSRU at LSE and PSSRU at Kent, which continue to have very strong links as well as a shared web presence.
The PSSRU carries out policy analysis, research and consultancy in the UK and abroad. The Unit's current research programme focuses on needs, resources and outcomes in social and health care, with particular emphasis on economic aspects of community care, residential and nursing home provision, social care markets and commissioning, long-term care finance, and mental health policy. The PSSRU has long had close and productive links with policy makers in the UK and elsewhere.
PSSRU at LSE
Directed by Professor Martin Knapp, the LSE branch is part of LSE Health and Social Care, which is located within the Department of Social Policy. LSE has established a reputation for depth, breadth and excellence in British social science, with a long history of policy impact. LSE Health and Social Care (comprising PSSRU and LSE Health) promotes and draws upon the multidisciplinary expertise of 72 staff members, 58 associated academics and a large number of postgraduate students.
Since January 2008, PSSRU at LSE has been awarded just over 50 new research grants, totalling £9 million, and has been involved in a number of key policy and practice discussions, such as the Dilnot Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, building community capacity, making the economic case for mental health promotion and prevention, and (jointly with the Kent branch) the evaluations of the Individual Budgets Pilot Scheme and the Partnerships for Older People Projects (POPP). The School for Social Care Research (SSCR) was set up in 2009 by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Martin Knapp was its founding director. In February 2014 he was reappointed its director for a second, five-year term with a further £15 million of NIHR funding.
PSSRU at Kent
The PSSRU at the University of Kent, directed by Professor Julien Forder, is based in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research in Canterbury. It hosts the Sir Roy Griffiths Library of Community Care. Since January 2008, PSSRU at Kent has been awarded over 40 new research grants, totalling about £11.6 million, and has been involved in a number of key policy and practice discussions, such as the Dilnot Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, the evaluation of extra care housing, and (jointly with the LSE branch) the evaluations of the Individual Budgets Pilot Scheme, the Partnerships for Older People Projects (POPP) and the evaluation of personal health budgets (PHBE). PSSRU at Kent was a founding member of the School for Social Care Research (SSCR) when it was set up in 2009, along with the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent. In early 2014 the University of Kent was awarded continued membership of SSCR. PSSRU at Kent produces the annual volumes of Unit Costs of Health and Social Care, which are widely used by policy-makers and practitioners.
The PSSRU is one of the leading social care research groups, not just in the UK, but internationally. Since its establishment, PSSRU has had considerable impact on national social care policy in the UK and in a number of other countries. PSSRU at LSE has established itself as the leading European group on mental health economics and policy, and has an excellent worldwide reputation for its work in this field.
PSSRU's achievements have been recognised in a number of ways, such as:
- All three branches of PSSRU have been assessed as ‘outstanding by international criteria’ by the Higher Education Funding Council.
- Our DH-funded five year programme (2006-2010) – which built on PSSRU's long-standing reputation for excellence in social care research – was rated "excellent" by peer-reviewers for: evidence of a clear focus on the issues specified in the application; evidence of appropriate research design, methods of data collection and forms of analysis; appropriate outcome measures; the value of the likely product relative to cost; and relevance to policy or practice.
- PSSRU at LSE's case study submission for HECFE’s REF Impact Pilot was highly praised and was one of a few to be shown to Universities Minister as an examplar (could add link to the case study).
- In 2009 LSE Health and Social Care (of which PSSRU at LSE is a substantial part) was awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for 'applying research to the advancement of global health and social care policy'. This award recognised the substantial impact of the Centre’s research on policy and practice. In the words of the Royal Anniversary Trust: ‘The work is widely seen as unique in its continuing ability to bridge the gap between research and policy. It is widely and frequently referenced by policy makers and has contributed to raising the quality of evidence-based policy making within government.’
- The Departments within which PSSRU sit within LSE and Kent were top-rated (5*) in the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008.
PSSRU at LSE and Kent continue to be successful in bidding for competitive funds. Funding for PSSRU's research programmes comes from a variety of sources, including public bodies, charitable trusts and private corporations. Current funding organisations include the Department of Health for England, the Department for Education, the European Union and the Nuffield Trust.
Following a very competitive a national tendering exercise open to all universities and other research bodies, in 2010 the DH established new nine Units, spanning the whole of health and social care, to start in January 2011 for five years initially. PSSRU has been successful in securing, in collaboration with other institutions, three of these Units:
- Quality and outcomes of person-centred care (now known as QORU), led by the PSSRU at Kent in collaboration with PSSRU at LSE and researchers at the University of Oxford (total £5 million)
- Economics of health and social care research unit (ESHCRU), led by the University of York and involving PSSRU at both Kent and LSE (£5 million)
- Policy innovation research unit (PIRU), led by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and involving PSSRU at LSE and Imperial College, London (£4.5 million)
In each case PSSRU is building excellent partnerships with other leaders in the field.
Commitment to staff development
Both branches have been accredited with Investors in People status (LSE in 2009; Kent in 2000).
Partnerships and collaborative working
The PSSRU has a substantial number of links with other universities, policy-makers, research funding bodies, international groups and organisations, and academics. Many of these links have been developed through specific research projects and initiatives.
The PSSRU is a partner in the NIHR School for Social Care Research (SSCR). SSCR, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), formally began work in May 2009. Led by Professor Martin Knapp (LSE) and with a budget of £15 million over five years, the SSCR is a partnership between six leading academic centres of social care research in England (including both PSSRU at LSE and at Kent). SSCR's mission is to develop the evidence base for adult social care practice by commissioning and conducting world-class research. See www.sscr.nihr.ac.uk.
The Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre was established in 2009, with funding from the Department for Education. It is a collaboration between the Institute of Education, Loughborough University and PSSRU at Kent. [Weblink]
Although the Centre for the Economics of Mental and Physical Health (at the Institute of Psychiatry in London) is independent of the PSSRU, it shares many links and in the past several staff have had joint appointments. It was founded by Professor Martin Knapp in 1993.