The Economics of Social Care Compendium (ESSENCE) continuation study

Examining the economic case for adult social care interventions


Timescale: 1 June 2020 - 31 May 2023
Funder: NIHR School for Social Care Research

Project description 

There are never enough resources to meet all needs. Consequently, decision-makers in central government, local authorities, provider organisations, and local community groups – not to mention individual service users and carers that organise or pay for their own care – must consider carefully how to make best use of the resources available to them.

Comparing the costs and outcomes of alternatives, as economic evaluations seek to do, can help to clarify these decision-making processes. Economic evaluations provide evidence about the costs of two or more alternative courses of action relative to their respective outcomes, with the latter defined as improvements in independence, satisfaction with support, wellbeing, health, or other areas.

The Economics of Social Care Compendium (ESSENCE) project, of which this project is a continuation, began in 2017 at LSE with funding from NIHR SSCR. It reviewed and summarised economic evidence to support decision-making in England’s adult social care system. The aim was to make it easier for decision-makers to access and understand the economic consequences of different ways of meeting care needs. Case summaries highlighted relevant evidence relating to a number of specific adult social care interventions. A searchable online database of evidence known as the ESSENCE Toolkit was also created. 

Our key achievement is to have produced a comprehensive collection that brings together all relevant pre-existing research, new analyses generated mainly through modelling, and "tools" that enable localisation of evidence by illustrating its implications for factors like needs, service configurations, and unit costs that are specific to the local level.

Evidence from ESSENCE is available via:


This study aims to build on the previous ESSENCE project by continuing to review, summarise, and update evidence in the ESSENCE Toolkit.


We will update the material on the ESSENCE website to ensure that the evidence is easily accessible. We will consult with potential users of the material to help us improve the layout and content of the Toolkit. Also, we will work to raise awareness of the Toolkit and encourage its use. Alongside this activity, we aim to improve wider understanding of this economic evidence base by providing related training and developing learning materials.

Further information

Principal Investigator at LSE: Professor Martin Knapp
CPEC Research Team: Dr Michela Tinelli (CPEC LSE), Ms Annette Bauer (CPEC LSE), Dr Helen Weatherly (University of York), Mr Ben Schlaepfer (CPEC LSE)
Countries: England
Keywords: Economics, Social Care
Contact: Martin Knapp (

ESSENCE2 is already underway: get involved!

There are many ways that you can contribute to the project:

  • Sharing relevant research
  • Providing feedback to optimise the layout and content of the ESSENCE Toolkit
  • Providing expert advice
  • Promoting use of the ESSENCE toolkit and of economic evaluation for decision-making more broadly
  • Organising new training events. For past examples, see here.

To get involved, contact Dr Michela Tinelli