This section aims to answer some Frequently Asked Questions
One of the key principles is that no investigator should have to seek ethics review from more than one REC. Under GAfREC (paragraph 2.3.8A) social care research does not require review by the Social Care REC if it is reviewed by another committee operating in accordance with the Economic and Social Research Council's Framework for Research Ethics unless any of the following apply:
Review by your University REC (provided it operates in accordance with the ESRC's framework and none of the above apply) should therefore be sufficient.
For those unable to obtain a review from a REC operating in accordance with the ESRC Framework, please contact the Co-ordinator for advice.
Please note: Studies involving people lacking capacity MUST be reviewed by a recognised Appropriate Body under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. University RECs are not recognised bodies and are therefore unable to give research ethics approval under the Act. The Social Care REC is a recognised body as are some other NRES RECs. It is recognised that some Universities will require an internal review of studies before they are sent for external review.
The above also applies to those working in Universities.
The Social Care REC reviews adult social care research study proposals, and intergenerational studies involving adults and children or families. This research would therefore probably be outside our remit but please contact the Co-ordinator for confirmation.
As outlined above, this type of research falls within the remit of the Social Care REC.
Social Care studies funded by the DH should be reviewed by the Social Care REC. This includes:
The Social Care REC is part of NRES and its membership, expertise and procedures have been developed to reflect the social care context. The Social Care REC is able to review studies of integrated services (health and social care), provided there is no clinical intervention involved. It is current practice to discuss specific studies with an NRES manager where there is any doubt about the appropriate REC. As this research involves integrated services and there is no clinical intervention, the Social Care REC is an appropriate committee to review this study.
Please note: If the research involves NHS and adult social care staff only, review by a REC is no longer required (see Governance arrangements for research ethics committee, DH, May 2011). However, if such a study involves particularly sensitive ethical issues, and the Chief Investigator or sponsor requests ethical review, Social Care REC may be able to offer review. Please contact the Co-ordinator if this applies.
The Social Care REC is recognised as an Appropriate Body under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to review research involving people lacking capacity. One of the aims of the Social Care REC is to address gaps in provision and take on specialist roles. We would therefore be very willing to review your research.
One of the major principles of the governance arrangements for research ethics committees is that researchers should only be required to seek ethical review from one ethics committee. Therefore, you only need to apply to one NRES REC that is flagged for Mental Capacity applications. As your research does not appear to involve any changes to clinical practice, you could equally have applied to Social Care REC: but as you have an application in progress, you should proceed with that. However, if you are recruiting participants through the Local Authority you will also need to contact their R&D department for permission to access their service users in same way as the NHS R&D Department.
The remit of the Social Care REC includes studies taking place in NHS settings with NHS patients where the approach uses social science or qualitative methods, provided that the research does not involve any change in treatment or clinical practice. The Social Care REC would therefore be able to review this project.
The social care community promotes a wide definition of what constitutes research. For example, most service evaluations would be accepted as suitable for review by the Social Care REC. Investigators and sponsors may have a number of reasons for seeking REC review (such as vulnerable participants; wanting advice on consent procedures; ability to reassure publications editors). A sponsor or investigator can request ethics review from the Social Care REC, or by another REC supported by NRES, by contacting the Coordinator.
The proposed definition of ‘social care’ is that contained within the Department of Health, Research Governance Framework Social Care Implementation Plan (DH, 2004), i.e. research undertaken ‘in or with’ bodies (independent or statutory) providing personal social services – the PSS sector. The key to this definition is thus whether access to research populations is being sought via PSS agencies, or the provider organisations (such as care homes) contracted by them.
The Social Care REC is supported by the National Research Ethics Service and follows their Standard Operating Procedures and Governance Arrangements. Under these an ethical decision must be given within a maximum of 60 days from the date at which the application is validated. However, the Social Care REC aims to give a decision well within 60 days. During the period July 2010 to 31 December 2011, the average time for a decision to be given was 27 days from the day that a valid application (the IRAS form, with all the necessary attachments) was received by the Co-ordinator.