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The experiences of participants in care home research – LAY SUMMARY

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The experiences of participants in care home research – LAY SUMMARY


The experiences of participants in care home research


Author: Jae Wyld Contact:

Timescale: 19.06.2017 – 15.09.2017

Date completed: 15.09.2017

Supervisor: Louise Newbould


As the ageing population continues to increase, the number of people living in care homes with complex needs also rises, and the challenges the care home faces are becoming more difficult. The limited resources that many of the care homes have available to them makes this challenge even more problematic. Research is needed so that new methods of care and new technologies can be tested. However, there are many reasons why conducting research in care homes is challenging. For example, many of the residents are very vulnerable and unable to take part due to poor health, and the fact many staff leave their post after short periods of time. This makes follow-up difficult, meaning there may be few staff who have a long running knowledge of the care home. There are a lot of challenges for everyone involved in getting a research project running smoothly. Several staff members at different levels were interviewed, along with a family member of a resident to get their perspective on this challenge, and ask them what they think researchers can do to make participation in research easier for them. From these interviews, we found that paying close attention to the care home schedules is very important, and including care staff in the planning of the research is very helpful to ensuring a project runs smoothly. The way that information is communicated within and between care homes, care home networks and researchers needs to be consistent and reliable, so that trusting relationships can develop between them. If conversations between the care home and the researcher begin early, the researcher can listen to what the care home have to offer, and what they want to achieve by participating. The researcher can then include the care staffs’ preferences in the project design. Here are some of the recommendations for researchers, care homes, research networks and care home associations from the view of participants:

  • Senior carers and care assistants recognise the value and importance of taking part in research. Whilst the manager may be the most qualified person to decide if a proposed project is right for the care home, involving less senior members of staff in this decision may provide a fresh perspective on how to overcome challenges, and help the project become a success.
  • Researchers may find more success in recruiting by asking care home associations for help.
  • Everyone in the care home should be aware of the researcher and the project, not just the people taking part. Care home managers should make sure that everyone is in-the-know, not just those directly involved.
  • Many care homes will struggle when staff spend time participating in research when it takes them away from their caring responsibilities. Researchers should do their best to keep the required time to a minimum.
  • When designing a research project, researchers should include time to get to know the care home they want to work with early in the process. This includes getting to know the staff, the residents, the care home schedule and what is important to them. This will help a trusting and understanding relationship develop between the researcher and the care home, and facilitate a well-coordinated project.
  • Unexpected events can and will happen at some point during the project. The researcher will need to be flexible and willing to work around the care of the residents.
  • Residents who live in care homes often want the place they live to be as homely as possible. Researchers should dress in nice clothing, but nothing too formal, as this may cause some residents to see them as an authoritative figure
  • Be friendly and approachable at all times. Dementia awareness training should be undertaken by all people entering the care home, so that you can include everyone in your activities and conversations.
  • Keeping care homes up to date about the progress of the research and showing how their contribution has helped. This may encourage participation in future projects.
  • Employees or volunteers with a keen interest for research can provide assistance and insight to care home challenges from a unique and informed perspective, and should be considered for research championship roles
  • Research networks or care home associations should keep a record on the reasons why care homes accept or decline research projects, so that this can be used by researchers to adapt their recruitment process and help find the most suitable care homes for their projects more quickly.
  • To encourage project uptake, the benefits of research participation, including immediate effects and future impacts, should be made clear when approaching care homes to ask for their help in research.
  • Participants should be rewarded for their time, as this can encourage participation. Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to rewards, researchers should speak to their target participants to find out how they would like their efforts acknowledged, and aim to provide something that will assist their professional or personal development.
  • It is important that ‘hard to reach’ participants are included, such as agency staff, permanent night staff, and care homes that are in distant or rural locations. Whist this may increase the time and travel expenses required to complete the project, this is the only way that research results will be inclusive and representative. No one should be left behind.