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Health & Social Care Research Across North East & North Cumbria.

Social Care

Meet the Team

The National Institute for Health and Care Research has funded over £200 million worth of social care research since 2006. Research into social care aims to help people remain independent, retain their dignity and achieve a better quality of life.

Research in social care focuses on the subspecialties of mental capacity and personal finances, supporting those involved in the care of those with learning disabilities and topics relating to adults with dementia and their carers. Social care is often not delivered within the NHS, but rather is supported by care organisations and local authorities.

Clare Aitken

Direct delivery team manager

CRN North East and North Cumbria

Ruth McGovern

Lecturer in public health research and NIHR post doctoral fellow

Newcastle University

Clare Aitken's research experience

I lead the direct delivery team (DDT) for NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria (NENC) across the three main hubs in Middlesbrough, Newcastle and North Cumbria. I am also the lead for social care research in the NENC Local Clinical Research Network senior management team.

The direct delivery team (agile team) supports research across a broad range of wider care and community settings including schools, hospices, dental and charities for example. The team is part of a local and national transformation of research initiative to  respond to the health needs of local people and work proactively with under-served communities who don’t currently access healthcare and/or don’t take part in health research, ultimately making research accessible for all. 

To make this happen we work with partners across the health and care system and in local communities to build an innovative, flexible and inclusive research infrastructure.

I joined the NIHR in 2021 and have worked in leadership roles in various settings including the private sector, local government, community and voluntary sector and the commissioning and performance management of public health services.

Connect with Clare Aitken

Email Clare

Ruth McGovern's research experience

I am an NIHR post doctoral research fellow and lecturer in public health research at the Population Health Sciences Institute at Newcastle University. My research aims to improve both health and social needs through the reduction of lifestyle risk and promotion of social justice.

The focus of my work is upon children, parents and families and substance misuse. Substance misusing parents and their children are among the most disadvantaged within society. My work seeks to benefit this highly vulnerable population through evidenced-based decision making, policy and practice. A key strand of my work is concerned with developing and evaluating behaviour change interventions to reduce alcohol and drug use.

My research examines the feasibility and effectiveness of public health interventions with a wide range of populations and in various settings, often outside of the NHS. I have a professional background in social work; a profession which engages and intervenes with the most disadvantaged populations in society. I am committed to enhancing scientific knowledge through the development of evidenced-based interventions within the social care setting. I have a professional background in social work and counselling. Throughout my professional career I specialised in drug and alcohol treatment, working in a range of therapeutic and social care settings.

Connect with Ruth McGovern

Email Ruth

How to get involved


Visit the national specialty page here

School for Social Care Research

Visit the NIHR’s School for Social Care Research and their funding opportunities that can help develop research skills in early career researchers.

Obtain advice

Make contact with the Applied Research Collaboration North East and North Cumbria, they will be able to advise on the research currently taking place and how to get involved.

Applied Research Collaboration

Familiarise yourself with the Applied Research Collaboration’s research themes, in the North East and North Cumbria this focuses on inequalities prevention. The sub-themes include supporting children and families, multimorbidity, ageing and frailty, integration of physical, mental and social care and prevention, early intervention and behaviour changes. There are cross cutting themes, which are national initiatives, such as, surrounding enabling research for marginalised communities and addressing inequalities and enabling methodologies, with knowledge of implementation sciences.

Get in touch

Contact a member of the team who specialises in your area of interest.