Care homes

Julienne Meyer Completed   2010


Within a care home setting there are many levels at which these data could be collected, from the organisational level (whole systems) to the individual level (including perspectives from residents, families and visitors). Research can be a snapshot of a particular time period or may assess change over time, for example in control trials or longitudinal studies.


The aim of this review was to produce an evidence-based guide to help those new to the field of researching in care homes to learn from the experience of others in undertaking studies in these complex settings. It also aimed to promote researchers’ understanding of specific issues relating to research in a care home at each stage of the process.


The review draws on illustrative examples from a range of studies and is broadly structured to reflect the various stages of a research project through planning, fieldwork and dissemination.

Whilst the focus of this review is on care homes for older people, observations may be relevant to researchers in similar care settings such as those working in the field of intellectual disabilities. Pragmatically, this review cannot be a systematic trawl across all research methods. It focuses on three broad methodologies as applied in care home research: Qualitative, (e.g. interviews and observations); Quantitative (e.g. structured instruments and control trials) and Participative (e.g. action research).


The review highlighted that:

  • Research in care homes must be understood to be a complex undertaking, one which should take into account the needs of residents, relatives and staff
  • Researchers should consider the value of working with residents, relatives and staff as research partners in order to enhance the experience, reach and dissemination of
  • Researchers should consider the impact that cognitive and physical frailty, staffing pressures and the unique environments of care homes. These may impact upon the process and progress of research projects
  • The well-being of participants and associated stakeholders must be considered paramount to research design.
Care homes
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