Opinion

Shaping the future of home care

Dr Mark Laing, Director of Innovation at Home Instead Senior Care

As we become an increasingly ageing society it’s incredibly important that we fully understand how best to care for older people.  In an innovative partnership with the University of York, we’ve launched a three-year programme of research on home care for older people.

Working with researchers at the University’s Social Policy Research Unit, and drawing on our experience as a major provider of home care in the UK, the programme will generate evidence directly relevant to national debate and policy around older people’s health and wellbeing and improve social care for everyone.

It was important for us to partner with an academic institution to determine how we evolve our model of care for the future and ensure, as an organization, we are evidence-informed and support a much-needed expansion of research on homecare.

This is something not just for Home Instead but for the entire social care sector: we need to better understand what home care should look like. Home Instead look after a lot of people and deliver a lot of care and it would be great to be able to use this data for the greater good.  We not only need to know that we are doing is good; we need to see if we are doing ‘best’.

One thing that excites us about this project is the huge potential to use data we collect routinely to better evidence the provision of home care. Each year, we support 15,000 older people, delivering over 30 million hours of care and support. The enormous potential of this data has, to date, not been realized.

“Research into home care is extremely limited when compared to health care.  Our aim is to help Home Instead look at the data they collect, ensure it is robust, and that most use is made of it to inform service development, improve outcomes and the service user experience. Another objective of this three year programme is to secure external funding for additional studies.  Across all this, it is essential any work undertaken speaks to the evidence priorities within the home care sector.

Professor Bryony Beresford, Professor of Health and Care Services Research at the University of York

This research programme is very timely. Government strategy for older people stresses the importance of ‘healthy aging in place’. The Covid-19 pandemic has alerted people to the vital role that social care plays, and that care at homes is an alternative to residential care.

Some of Home Instead’s office network are already collaborating with academic institutions and research groups to support research. One of the roles of this partnership with the University of York is to help set a framework to facilitate, and ensure proper governance of, these collaborations.

An important first piece of work – which will take place early 2021 – will be to consult with stakeholders (Home Instead owners, academics, care practitioners, older people and their families) about what questions and topics the programme should work on.

There is also great potential for international studies and the programme team has already been in touch with colleagues in North America. As a global business in home care, we want to collaborate with our colleagues in other countries.  We may have different regulations but we all have the same fundamental needs to be looked after properly – we are all human beings and it’s the right thing to do to be evidence-informed and evidence using organisations.

 

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