More people are living longer with higher levels of disability at older ages. Over the next 25 years, the pensionable age population will grow by 3.8 million in the UK and the number of people over the age of 85 will more than double (Office for National Statistics 2009). The South West Peninsula has an older population than the England average and Devon in particular has a large population of older adults.
As a consequence of this a large number of the local population live in residential and nursing homes (care homes for short). Care home residents are more likely than the general population to have additional care needs, which are often complex, multiple health problems and live with dementia. Health and care professionals including care home owners and staff have identified a need to improve the quality and appropriateness of care for older people living in care homes in the South West.
We want to develop our understanding of how to implement best practice and share knowledge in residential care settings with the aim of improving the health and social care of residents.
The project has three strands:
- Implementing best practice
Our understanding of how and why evidence-based practices are, or are not, implemented in residential care settings is limited. We aim to:
- Systematically review the literature on how to turn research findings into changes in practice. We want to establish how to share and apply practices that have been shown to improve the care of people resident in care homes, identify barriers to best practice and identify strategies that have been used to overcome them.
- Look at what it is that makes change possible and effective within care homes. Our focus is on developing a study to understand how ready to change care homes are when putting into practice evidence-based initiatives.
Care and nursing home managers are central to how a home is run as well as its culture and ethos but little is known about this part of the social care workforce. We aim to:
- Systematically scope the literature to identify the impact of different leadership management styles in UK care homes with regard to the culture within a home and the management of change. Update: We have drafted a protocol for a systematic scoping review of the role of care home manager in the implementation of changes and knowledge mobilisation.
- Develop a study to increase insight into the work of managers in terms of the culture of the care home, management of change and how they find and share professional information and knowledge. We have undertaken 19 interviews with care home managers across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset to inform our research and produced posters and an academic paper reporting our findings.
- We are engaging with staff and others on the ground to help us understand the uncertainties and issues (that might be addressed through research) facing those involved in the care home sector.
By this we mean those who live in or have a relative living in a residential care setting, or who work in or around residential care. We hope to:
- Make it easier for people working in the care home sector to become involved with research.
- Identify and shape uncertainties into researchable questions that we might address.
- Increase capacity to understand how evidence can inform care practice.
This work resulted in a successful bid to the Alzheimer’s Society and The Dunhill Medical Trust for the University of Exeter and Care Homes Knowledge (ExCHANGE) Collaboration project to continue this engagement work and create a test a model of engaging care providers in research and researchers engaging more with care homes.