Better healthcare in care homes

Research at the University of Hertfordshire is helping to identify ways to improve healthcare for the nearly half a million people living in care homes in the UK. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role care homes play in the long-term care of older people and must be recognised by policy makers.


Research funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and led by Professor Claire Goodman at the University of Hertfordshire found care home residents’ access to healthcare provision was ‘erratic and inequitable’. It studied all the different ways that the NHS in England works with care homes, identified common elements within the different approaches likely to lead to improved outcomes and tested this by tracking what happened to residents living in 12 care homes across England.

The study findings concluded that there were core elements within services that needed to be addressed. Key was when NHS decision-makers recognised care homes as partners, rather than as a problem or a drain on NHS resources. It called for more time to be given to NHS staff to learn how to work with care home staff to discuss, plan and review care and strengthen ties with existing health care services. It identified that activities that supported working more closely together provided the best evidence for improved healthcare. It also argued for the need to ensure that both NHS and care home staff had access to and support from dementia specialist services.
The research has had national impact and has been widely cited by national policy think-tanks such as The King’s Fund.

Professor Goodman’s current research will address the need to develop robust systems that support how all the different services and individuals (e.g. care staff, NHS professionals, family, regulators, social services) work together for residents’ benefit.

Further reading