NIHR Research Design Service Social Care Research Residential Grant Development and Writing Retreat FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Download these FAQs, including the conference guidance here (PDF).

What is the residential Grant Development and Writing Retreat?

The Retreat offers a unique opportunity for researchers to develop their ideas in a supportive environment. It is organised and facilitated by the NIHR Research Design Service (RDS).

The aim of the Retreat is to facilitate the development of high-quality proposals for social care research prior to application to an NIHR Social Care funding programme. Teams will work to develop their ideas into high quality research proposals.

Who is it for?

The Retreat will appeal to social care professionals in and researchers in England who would welcome dedicated time and expert advice to develop high quality research proposals. Applications should be made by individuals on behalf of teams of two or three people. It is encouraged (but not essential for attendance at the Retreat) that a member of the wider research team is a social care professional employed in England.

What is the charge for attendance?

Successful applicants will be offered a free place to attend the Retreat, however, a strict cancellation/non-attendance fee of £350 will be imposed and delegates will be required to obtain financial approval from their host organisations as part of the application process. If however the Retreat is cancelled due to national Covid-19 restrictions this charge will not be made.

When and where is the residential Grant Development and Writing Retreat?

The Retreat will take place from 9.30 am Wednesday 15 March to 3.30 pm Friday 17 March but overnight accommodation is available from Tuesday 14 March 2023 for three nights at Castle Green Hotel, Kendal. The Retreat is fully residential and accommodation and all meals will be provided.

How do I apply?

You should submit a completed application form to by 12.00 noon on 16 December 2022.  Please contact your local RDS to obtain their support and advice on your application to attend the Retreat. They will be able to recommend if the proposal is ready for the Retreat. 

When will I hear the result of my application?

It is anticipated that you will hear the outcome of your application by the 30 January 2023.

What is included in the Retreat?

  • Full board accommodation in an en-suite room at the Castle Green Hotel, Kendal – breakfast, lunch and evening meal.
  • Refreshments throughout the day – tea, coffee and biscuits.
  • All activities of the residential Grant Writing Retreat.
  • Conference facilities and working spaces.
  • Access to RDS advisers with multiple methodology and patient involvement expertise.
  • Continued support in the development of your application will be available from your local RDS.

What is not included?

  • Travel costs to and from the Retreat, unless required and agreed for public contributors.
  • Personal travel insurance.
  • Any equipment insurance as required.
  • Personal spends, including bar bills.
  • Personal care for members of the public cannot be provided by either the Retreat staff or the other members of the research team – if you have a team member with particular care requirements please contact the RDS to discuss at

How will delegates be chosen?

Applications will be assessed by a national panel. The main criterion when assessing applications will be the potential for your team to make progress towards a competitive application to a NIHR programme for social care research such as the RfSC or HSDR. Teams that include a social care professional, whether attending the Retreat or part of the wider research team, will be considered favourably.

What support is available to me to make an application?

Retreat applicants are encouraged to seek support from their local Research Design Service team, RDS contact details here, who will be happy to help you to develop your application and grant proposal before and after the Retreat.

What is expected of participants?

Delegates are expected to give their full commitment to the Retreat, which will involve intensive working throughout. They are also expected to continue working on their proposal with their local RDS following the residential week, and to submit their proposal to an NIHR programme for social care research. The curriculum for the Retreat is arranged for a specific number of attendees and a change in numbers can cause considerable logistical difficulties. Each delegate named on the application form is, therefore, required to commit to attending for the full duration of the Retreat, except for public contributors.

Can I come for just part of the Retreat?

Unfortunately, partial attendance is not possible apart from public contributor team members. If a team includes a public contributor the rest of the team must attend the whole event and consist of two other team members.  It is important that all delegates are committed to the residential nature of the Retreat and attend for the entire duration. If there are exceptional circumstances which make this particularly difficult for you, then please get in touch as soon as possible via

Who are the ‘advisers’?

Advisers at the event will have considerable experience and expertise in research, research design, grant writing and reviewing as well as an understanding of the requirements of the NIHR funding programmes for social care. They are all members of the NIHR Research Design Service. Aside from generic skills in research, they will also have specialist research expertise in research design, social care research and public involvement.

Will access to the Internet be available at the Retreat?

Yes, free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. However, it is strongly recommended that you do much of the preparatory work e.g. literature searches before attending the Retreat.

What expenses will I have?

Costs that you must meet yourself include travel costs to and from the Retreat venue, personal spending throughout the Retreat, and any travel and/or equipment insurance as required. Travel expenses may be available via the RDS for public contributors. Please highlight these on your application.

Where and when do I join the Retreat?

Full details of enrolment procedures will be made available to the successful applicants. The Retreat will begin with registration at 9.30 am on the morning of Wednesday 15 March 2023. Free overnight accommodation is available on Tuesday 14 March 2022 if required for three nights.

Will I get my own room?

Yes, each delegate will have their own room with en-suite facilities, television, and wi-fi. You will have full access to the hotel health and fitness facilities.

I have specific dietary/access requirements – will these be catered for?

The hotel caters for a wide range of dietary requirements including vegetarian. Individual dietary requirements can be discussed with the hotel who will make every effort to accommodate them.

We will work with the hotel to address any special participant needs that are brought to our attention.

Why is the Retreat residential?

It is recognised that taking staff out of their workplace for three days may seem extravagant. However, there are considerable benefits to running the Retreat this way. In particular, the separation of the Retreat from everyday work, coupled with the availability of specialist advisers, provides an ideal environment for teams to make rapid progress towards potentially fundable proposals. The residential nature of the Retreat also enables informal “after hours” discussions within and between teams and with the RDS advisers.