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Case study: WM Research in wider health and social care settings (DemECH)

Care Home Resaearch

The CRN West Midlands Study Support Service team responsible for primary care and wider health and social care settings was introduced to the DemECH study in December 2021, by Sandra Prew, ENRICH* National Coordinator, and Nicola Standen, ENRICH West Midlands Care Home Research Facilitator.    

The DemECH study is looking at how Extra Care Housing (ECH) can support people to live well with dementia.   ECH allows people to live in self-contained accommodation, with access to 24-hour care that is flexible and adapts to changing needs.    

Over a fifth of those living in ECH have dementia, yet little is known about what works well and for whom.   The project aims to  investigate the advantages and disadvantages of different models of ECH (integrated, separate dementia unit, specialist dementia).    

Working with nine ECH sites, data was collected to build a descriptive profile of each site, to understand who lives in ECH and how they are supported to live well.  At each site, the team interviewed residents with and without dementia, family carers, staff, social care link workers, and adult social care commissioners to help understand the benefits and challenges of different models of ECH.

The ENRICH team initially identified the newly funded study on the School of Social Care Research (SSCR) funding website and reached out to the study team - Teresa Atkinson, Co-Principal Investigator and Dr Rebecca Oatley, Research Associate, based at the University of Worcester.  Through the Network’s contacts with Extra Care Housing Schemes the ENRICH Team was  able to connect the study team with the Research Manager in one of the schemes and identify an appropriate site at which to undertake the research.

During the meeting they also discussed the collaborative advantages to be gained from adoption on to the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Portfolio  and connected the Research Team with the CRN West Midlands Study Support Service through Lauren Thakrar, Study Support Manager.

The study team was supported in applying retrospectively for the Portfolio - this was successfully completed, allowing recruitment to start in early 2022.    

Working closely together to resolve problems, meeting regularly to update one another and work to find solutions to keep the study on track, they were able to recruit to time and target, successfully closing with 100% recruitment.  

Lauren (pictured) said: “ It was a pleasure to work with Teresa and Becky to help them with their queries. They have passion for broadening research within non-clinical, social care settings and are keen to see this grow in the region; there is a real opportunity to collaborate and learn together. “

Teresa added: “We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that organisations, particularly those at the front line of care delivery, are committed first and foremost to their client population.  Our needs as researchers, however well intentioned, must allow that those we are asking to participate in studies have their own agendas and needs.  

“So we must ensure we are willing to keep repeating what our study sets out to do, articulate the benefits we are trying to achieve, but be respectful of individual and organisational circumstances.  Sometimes no response doesn’t mean people aren’t interested.  It may mean they haven’t had time to look at our email or we haven’t conveyed its meaning well.”

Are you applying for research funding or about to set up a research study that could benefit from support from the NIHR CRN West Midlands Study Support Service and ENRICH?   

Why not get in touch here at or read more about the Study Support Service?

CRN West Midlands ENRICH 

Further information about ENRICH Or watch this two minute video. Contact the Team at

*ENRICH (Enabling Research in Care Homes) was established in all CRN areas in 2014/15 and brings together care home staff, residents and their families with researchers.The ENRICH Network supports care homes, to become research aware, take part in research and share research findings. In the West Midlands there are currently over 140 Care Homes and Extra Care Housing schemes that are members of the ENRICH Network.