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Researchers’ Engagement with Care Homes

Nuno Santos Lopes is the Director of Research, Innovation and Community Engagement at Nightingale Hammerson. He is passionate about working in care homes, with dementia residents and in palliative care. In this blog, Nuno is revisiting the talk he gave at the CRN South London’s Annual Research Forum this year, discussing how his experience of working with researchers led him to challenge how research is done in care homes.

At Nightingale Hammerson, we have worked with multiple researchers over the past few years. Researchers are our ‘critical friends’. They see what we do, how we do it and ask us why we do what we do. Working with researchers offers us a great opportunity to reflect on our day-to-day practice and challenge ourselves to always strive to improve and provide better care to our community.

Over the past year, we have engaged with 14 different studies and researchers on topics like palliative care, human rights, respiratory infections, COVID-19 response, dementia, oral care and others. Care Homes are a golden mine for researchers. A great variety of topics require research, and the social care sector needs researchers to invest more time within the sector to help us to challenge the status quo and shape government policy to provide the right level of support to our communities in the coming decades.

Traditionally, researchers approach care providers with the topics they are interested in, which, on many occasions, are not the priority for the care providers. That does not help with engagement with care homes. We want to change the way research happens in the care sector. For this reason, we convene our Care Home Research Forums. The third Forum will take place on 29 November at Hammerson House (for further details, visit the Nightingale Hammerson website).

At this event, we invite researchers to share the findings of their studies with an audience of researchers, care home staff, CQC inspectors, local authorities, care home residents and their relatives. With such a broad group of attendees, each presentation generates interesting and insightful discussions. This event is the seed that Nightingale Hammerson has planted to help to bring about change to social care research.

I want to conclude this blog with an appeal: ‘Researchers! We need you!’ To impact people’s lives through research, focus on what is important to the care home residents, relatives and staff. This can help to shape the future of social care and help people to live better in care homes.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.