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Support for research in care homes

Case study that looks at the ENRICH initative which supports research in care homes.
An older woman uses a laptop with a younger woman next to her
© Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

In this step we will look more closely at a case study about research in care homes. As you read it, think about what particular things you may need to consider in relation to governance and ethics when conducting research in a care home.

ENRICH (Enabling Research in Care Homes) is an initiative that aims to bring together care home staff, residents and their families with researchers. It provides a range of resources to help care homes make the most of research, and to support researchers to set up and run studies effectively and collaboratively in care homes.

More information about the resources available is available on the ENRICH website:

Liz Glaves

Liz Glaves (Research Delivery Manager, West Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust) reflects on her engagement with the ENRICH initiative and the West Midlands CRN:

At Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) we collaborated with the West Midlands Clinical Research Network to support the ENRICH initiative. Over the last few years, we have taken various mental health, physical health and dementia research studies into care homes within Staffordshire and Shropshire. This has been a positive experience, allowing us to offer research participation to a wider population outside of traditional NHS settings.
Depending on the type of study, participation by care home residents could mean access to novel treatments that would not be available as part of standard care, or the chance to influence future care pathways.
Delivering research in a care home setting does bring specific challenges. Not all care home residents may be well enough to provide informed consent, which is an essential component of research participation, so studies need to be designed to allow family or carer involvement in this important process, where the wishes and best interests of the resident can be fully considered.
Research participation can also be time consuming, and it may be difficult for care home staff to allocate the time needed to complete study assessments or questionnaires.
However, the benefits of engaging with research can be significant. Our research delivery team collected feedback from residents, carers and staff about a dementia study their care home had been involved in. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with the opportunity to share experiences of care services and potentially influence care and treatments for future generations viewed as empowering for those who took part.

Initiatives like ENRICH can really help to make a difference to a research project and open-up new opportunities for conducting and sharing research.

ENRICH is a prime example of a research network that you could access for support if you are intending to conduct research in care home settings. If care home research is not your area of interest, there may be other groups and networks of a similar type and design in your area of research that could offer similar support. It may be worth trying to identify these local and/or national resources.

What key things would you need to consider to conduct research in a care home? What do your fellow learners think?

© Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
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