ARC England launches Learning Disability Research Unit to plug gaps in sector data provision

ARC England (Association for Real Change), the only membership organisation dedicated to supporting learning disability and autism service providers, is launching the ARC England Learning Disability Research Unit, a major new strategic research programme to provide more and better data for the sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the social care sector and exposed the data failings and poor understanding that have hindered its development for years.  The new initiative is designed to enable a step-change in the understanding and appreciation of the large but often neglected learning disability and autism sector within the broader social care sector.  The research programme will allow new insight into the size, value, structure and dynamics of the sector, identifying best practice and innovation and providing a knowledge base to inform business planning and shape future policy making.

Clive Parry, ARC England Director says:

“A lack of timely and robust data has held back the development of the learning disability and autism sector for years. The launch of this major strategic research initiative is an important milestone that will help deliver the understanding and appreciation the sector deserves.” 

The development and content of the research programme will be guided by a new Research Steering Group that will also providing core funding for the initiative.  The Group, chaired by ARC England, is formed of a cross-section of care providers and leading stakeholders and will meet for the first time on 11th August 2022, to confirm research priorities for the first 12 months.  Amongst the new research projects being discussed will be a quarterly ‘CEO Confidence Index’ that will help track the health of the sector across a range of key indicators.  The Steering Group will also act as a forum for discussing sector-wide issues and agreeing joined up solutions.

ARC England Research Steering Group members

Current ARC England Research Steering Group members include:

Steering Group member comments

Becky Hamilton, Director of Windward Day Services:

“Our position as providers enables us to fulfil a privileged role to people with lived experience of learning disability and of autism. Being involved in this initiative gives us a new opportunity to use our knowledge, skills and relationships to inform research which will ultimately enhance the wellbeing of the people we support.”

Christoph Marr, Marr Procurement:

“Marr Procurement is the UK’s care sector procurement specialist and works with many learning disabilities and autism care providers. Marr are therefore delighted to be part of the ARC Learning Disability Research Unit Steering Group so that innovative solutions from ARC England research are quickly shared with the sector so we improve the lives of service users.”

Rob Burton, Managing Director Vat Solutions

“The ARC England Learning Disability Research Unit Steering Group, and its mission of making a permanent, significant and positive difference to the sector, reflects wholeheartedly our key business drivers of improving both financial sustainability and quality of care for care operators and service users. We are delighted to be part of the strategic initiative which brings together sector expertise in such a way to make positive change happen.”

Sam Clark, Learning Disability England:

“Learning Disability England is supporting ARC England Learning Disability Research Unit as a member of the Steering Group as we want to help generate data and information that will support all our members’ lived experience be understood and recognised to bring about the change we need for everyone to live a Good Life.”

ARC England has also set up a new Research Fund for individuals and organisations wishing to support this initiative.  All donations will go towards increasing the scope and efficacy of the research programme.

For more information and interview enquiries, contact Liz Collins at the ARC England Press Office on 01246 555043 or email [email protected].