Advancing care – research with care homes

July 10, 2017

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has published Advancing Care - research with care homes, an overview of recent NIHR research on improving the health and care of care home residents.

There are more than twice as many people living in care homes in England and Wales, than there are people staying in hospital. Yet far more is known about effective treatments in hospital and less about what works most effectively to improve care for older people in care homes. The NIHR says that research in care homes is a relatively new and emerging field.

Advancing Care provides a review of research funded by the NIHR on three main themes relating to the care of care home residents:

  • Living Well – maintaining good health and quality of life.
  • Ageing Well – managing long-term conditions associated with ageing.
  • Dying Well – ensuring a good quality end of life

It highlights current research taking place now and explores new approaches being developed in this important area.

The NIHR research related to Living Well includes studies that aim to improve nutrition, improve the quality of life of residents and to find better ways to reduce depression and pain and manage incontinence. It includes studies that aim to increase residents’ access to routine health checks and to support approaches to prevent health problems from occurring in the first place.

In order to support residents in Ageing Well, NIHR research is aiming to find ways to improve the care of people living with dementia. This includes finding better ways of managing residents’ distress and behaviour that challenges. Studies are also identifying the needs of ageing residents with multiple serious conditions, looking at strategies to reduce the number of medication errors, optimise medication and avoid hospital admissions where appropriate.

Research that aims to improve end of life care for care home residents and to ensure a good quality death is included in the theme of Dying Well. This ranges from work on preferred place of death, through to supporting the very old at the end of life. There is also growing interest in research around the care of people with dementia at this stage, given there is still uncertainty as to what are the best kinds of support for these residents.

Advancing Care is available on the NIHR website and features:

  • 23 published studies.
  • 21 ongoing studies.
  • Quotes from care home owners, managers, staff and researchers.
  • Where next for care home research?

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