Care homes' involvement in research is vital to improving the way our healthcare systems work as well as to expand our understanding of diseases and treatments for individuals affected by dementia. We thrive on conducting high quality, rigorous research, and ensure all our participants involved are knowledgeable and comfortable partaking in any studies we conduct.
Therefore, the Care Home Research Network follow strict guidelines to protect the participants involved in our studies. This includes a procedure of gaining NHS ethical approval for the study as well as all the documents (e.g. questionnaires, information sheets) involved, gaining informed participant consent, and ultimately reassuring participants and/or next of kin that they are continuously safe, well informed, and have the freedom to withdraw from the study at any given time. It is also important for those participants and/or next of kin to be aware that all the researchers involved in the study to have qualified training in conducting research safely with the participant’s well-being in mind.
Riverlee Care Home (Sanctuary Care) was one of the first active research homes in the Network. Home Manager, Rebecca Sowle describes their experience of taking part in a pilot study. The study was a critical phase in a much larger research project called the Well-being and Health for People with Dementia (WHELD) study, which commenced in 2013:
- “When we were approached by the WHELD Project it came at just the right time as our organisation was changing the format of our care plans, introducing a more person-centred approach and concentrating on resident strengths and how we can build on their weaknesses to create a positive. Riverlee was chosen as a pilot site for WHELD and this has helped the care staff in formulating care plans in a more person-centred way, concentrating on individuals rather than a task-orientated approach. The interactions between residents and staff became more homely without forgetting about boundaries. Staff got to know residents better so if a resident was showing challenging behaviour they knew there was always a reason for it. The researchers attended our ‘residents and relatives’ meeting to explain what the project is about, ensuring that families were involved all the way. They were here every week, providing training to staff and assisting with care planning. They even went the extra mile by facilitating an issue which the carers found difficult to tackle. The staff and I were invited to attend training and conferences. We were able to network and meet up with other care homes within the region. At the last meeting we were invited to present certificates and each home gave a display of the project they carried out. To prove it we have a picture on our reception area presented to us by the WHELD project!”
Jane Stafford, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and WHELD researcher said:
- “It was great to see the enthusiasm of the staff involved, as they discussed examples of the positive changes that have been taking place in care homes, which have made a real difference to the lives of their residents. It has been a pleasure to work with such dedicated homes."