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New research aims to revolutionise care for older people

by Kirsty Kirsty

New research on social care and older people resulted in a toolkit designed by The Open University aimed at transforming the well-being of older people and staff in the care sector.

It is based on an emerging understanding of ‘relational care’ an approach which represents a shift to a more multidirectional flow of care where staff do things ‘with’ rather than ‘for’ residents.  An example of this is where older people and care staff share activities, learn from each other and support each other through challenges.

Underpinned by academic research from the report The value and practice of relational care with older people, which was funded by the Hallmark Foundation, the toolkit offers practical guidance for managers and staff on how to create the right conditions for relational care in their community or residential settings.

With a sector that has a soaring workforce turnover of 25%, at least 160,000 staff vacancies and 18% of care homes having to close in recent times, researchers say that the toolkit they have created from this research, could have far reaching benefits and provide more positive outcomes for staff and residents. In practical terms this could mean higher staff retention rates, reduced recruitment costs and improved well-being across the sector at little extra cost to care providers.

Dr Manik Deepak-Gopinath, Lecturer in Ageing and Professor Mary Larkin, Professor of Care, Carers and Caring at The Open University said:

“Our research has enabled a better understanding what relational care looks like and the positive impact it has on older people, their families and care providers.  We know that meaningful relationships are developed in an environment that facilitates a mutual sense of belonging, trust and inclusivity, and where everyone can feel respected and valued”

Avnish Goyal, CBE, Chair Hallmark Foundation and Hallmark Care Homes; Chair, Care England, said:

“Hallmark Care Homes have been implementing relational care for years because we know it works. Relational care supports happier older people, it makes our homes happier places, and it makes for happier team members. A real win-win-win which I recommend to all care providers”

Jenny Kartupelis, MBE, expert in relational care said:

“Relational care is already practised in settings around the UK and now this seminal research bridges the gap between theory and everyday good practice with new, replicable and accessible tools to help ensure a more fulfilling life for all involved.” 

The research was conducted across the four UK nations in settings where relational care was being practiced. These included three residential homes, one day centre and one supported sheltered housing complex.

In addition to the toolkit which can be found here, there will be resources available on OpenLearn the OU’s free learning platform later this year.

A summary of the report is available here

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