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A £2.2 million pound grant has been awarded to a group of 11 different institutions, including Exeter

£2.2 million collaboration to enhance quality of life in care homes

The University of Exeter is collaborating in a £2.2 million project to improve how researchers and health and social care services can use data to improve the care and quality of life for care home residents, families and staff.

The four-year National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded study, led by the University of Hertfordshire, will address the need to develop robust systems that support how all the different services and individuals (e.g. care staff, NHS professionals, family, regulators, social services) work together for residents’ benefit.

Developing research resources and minimum data set for care homes' adoption and use’ (DACHA), intends to review how current health and social care systems work; what “good” looks like; explore the evidence on how to integrate data and test what a minimum dataset would need to be the key resource for all those working in and for care homes. The findings have the potential to deliver a step-change in how we understand the needs of the care home population.  This could be a resource that supports the provision of high quality care across the country.

Dr Iain Lang, Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Associate Dean of International & Development at the University of Exeter, said: “It’s exciting to receive this level of funding to help people in care settings. Around 420,000 older people live in care, most of whom rely on the NHS for medical care. These people are some of the most vulnerable in the country and it’s important that care homes are able to understand their residents’ needs to support them to live well in their later years. Currently, many people become frustrated and unwell due to the lack of information or communication, which impacts their quality of life.”

“The differing approaches taken by different care homes means it’s harder for us to plan for the future of residents and also carry out research in these homes to improve services for people in need of care.”

Claire Goodman, Professor of Health Care Research, NIHR Senior Investigator at the University of Hertfordshire and the lead investigator said:“We rely on care homes to provide care and support to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Care homes are valued partners to the NHS providing almost all our long-term care for frail older people. A more consistent approach is needed to support integrated working and ensure that planning for future needs of residents is based on the best evidence. By bringing together existing data systems, creating a minimum data set and further researching care home residents’ needs, we can make recommendations likely to improve residents’ quality of life.”

The study which is due to start on 1st November 2019, will bring together 11 other institutions working collaboratively to develop reciprocal systems of working between the NHS and care homes that optimise current provision and research on its effectiveness.

The full list of collaborators are: University of Hertfordshire, University of Exeter, University of Leeds, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Kent, University of East Anglia, The University of Glasgow, University of Nottingham, University of Cambridge, The Health Foundation and The National Care Forum and Volunteer Network Alzheimer’s Society.

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Date: 4 November 2019