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Health Series: Research Spotlight

Towards better healthcare in care homes

Research identifies how the NHS and care homes can work better together to potentially deliver high quality, cost-effective healthcare to the near half million people in residential care

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Healthcare provision to residents in care homes across England is often ‘erratic and inequitable’, a major three-year study has found.

Led by the University of Hertfordshire, and involving Professor Julienne Meyer CBE from City, University of London, the Optimal study - which is published in the NIHR journal of Health Services and Delivery Research - found a narrow focus by NHS decision makers on care homes as a drain on resources, rather than as a solution, can result in short-term interventions that compromise relationships between NHS and care home staff, and affect care home staff confidence in being able to meet residents’ health needs.

The study, which involved seven UK universities, analysed the impact of different approaches by the NHS in providing healthcare to people living in care homes across England and identified several examples of successful partnership working between NHS and care homes.

However it concluded that high quality healthcare provision to care homes can only be achieved nationwide if close collaboration between the NHS and care homes becomes part of the ‘landscape of care’. This means ensuring, through targeted investment, that visiting healthcare professionals and care home staff are given the opportunity to work closely together to identify, plan and implement care protocols.

Professor Julienne Meyer, Professor of Nursing Care for Older People at City, University of London and co-author of the paper, said:

“Our report shows that it’s time for the NHS to see care homes as partners not problems, and to achieve this we have identified a number of ways that the NHS and care homes can work better together to deliver high quality, cost-effective healthcare to the near half million people in residential care. We are all going to get old, so we need to ensure that the lives of older people, and the care homes they live in are properly supported to deliver effective care in collaboration with the NHS.”

The three-year study, funded by NIHR, involved six UK partner universities – the University of Hertfordshire (lead), University of Nottingham, University of Surrey, Brunel University, City, University of London, Kings College London and University College London.

Watch the video below for more information about the project:

Links:

Read the full report
My Home Life briefing document about how care home staff can build better relationships with health colleagues

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