Ann-Marie Towers Completed 2014
Care homes are under increasing pressure to show how the care and support they provide affects people’s quality of life. The Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU), at the University of Kent, developed ASCOT (www.pssru.ac.uk/ascot) to measure the areas of quality of life most affected by social care services.
ASCOT measures eight quality of life domains and tells us what people’s lives are like and how the care and support they receive affects their lives (for better or worse). There are different measures and methods of data collection for different client groups. A version for measuring SCRQoL in care homes was designed so that all residents could be included, even those who find it difficult to tell people about their own lives, such as those living with advanced dementia. Information is collected through observations of life in the home and interviews with residents, staff and relatives. A trained person then uses this to rate the SCRQoL of residents.
Some care home providers have suggested that the care homes toolkit might be helpful for improving care practice in their homes. One service manager used ASCOT to observe care home residents and staff in order to understand what life was like for residents and then gave staff feedback based on these observations.
This project sought to systematically explore this approach and examine if staff and management found feedback about residents’ SCRQoL helpful and whether it could be used to inform practice and improve outcomes for residents.
Four care homes for older adults in one local authority region in England took part in the study, two from a large national chain and two from a small independent provider. All staff were invited and encouraged to take part in the research. All permanent residents were invited to take part in the research, including people with cognitive impairments and communication difficulties.
Data was collected in two phases, the second phase three months after the first. At both these times researchers spent up to five days in each home, conducting interviews with key staff and residents and undertaking observations of residents using ASCOT to rate residents’ SCQoL. Feedback from the first phase was given to care home staff two weeks after it was collected.