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Study aims to define best practice when care homes close

The University of Birmingham and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) are running a £1.2 million study to explore what happens to older people and to care staff if care homes close.

The research aims to help local councils to improve their support of older people and care staff if homes have to close via a good practice guide sent to every health and social care senior leader in England. There will also be an accessible guide for older people and families, and a free training video for care staff.

When care homes close – whether through financial problems, care failings or other factors – subsequent relocation can be detrimental to the wellbeing of older residents. There is little formal evidence to guide services nor shared learning in this scenario.  

Over three years from April 2021, this programme of research will investigate the pattern of care home closures nationally, how older people experience closures, and what impact do closures have on care staff and local care markets.

The researchers will also evaluate the costs and consequences of closures, and how can future closures be planned and conducted in a more evidence-based manner, so that outcomes for older people are improved and negative impacts reduced.

The study team will survey directors of adult social services, and consider these results alongside data from the Care Quality Commission.

Four Council areas experiencing closures will also be examined as case studies, with interviews with key stakeholders (commissioners, managers, Healthwatch and broader health partners), older people, families, care staff and social work assessors. Health and wellbeing data will be collected before, during and after the closure, and economic evaluations will compare the costs and consequences of alternative pathways of care for residents when homes close (including costs for residents, families, staff and local authorities).

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