Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Our Research Programme

Our Research Programme: Improving the quality and humanity of care for people living with dementia within acute hospital wards

Our goal is to improve everyday care for people living with dementia in all hospitals. 

Quality of care does not only encompass effectiveness, but humanity and equity. Our goal is for our research programme to bring rigour to all of these aspects of acute hospital care for people living with dementia. To do this, we are using sociology to improve the quality and humanity of care that people living with dementia receive in hospital.

The spotlight is currently on the quality of care vulnerable older people experience within acute hospital settings in England and Wales following the Francis report (2013) and the Andrews report (2014). These enquiries identified unacceptable quality of care, including the systemic deprivation of dignity and respect (Francis report, 2013) and serious concerns about the culture of care, particularly in the delivery of hydration and medication (Andrews report, 2014). On a national level, the House of Lords House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights also highlighted concerns about the widespread poor treatment, neglect, abuse, discrimination, lack of support for eating and drinking, and malnutrition and dehydration of older people in hospital (HMRC, 2007, paragraphs 9 – 65). Systemic failures in the care of older people had been identified by the Care Quality Commission, which concluded that the variation in care in hospitals experienced by people with dementia meant that they are ‘likely to experience poor care at some point along their care pathway’(p9) (Care Quality Commission, 2011 and 2014).

In response, our approach is to apply sociological research methods to provide the empirical, evidence-based foundations for new knowledge and theoretical developments in understandings of the cultures, organization and delivery of the care of people living with dementia in acute wards.

The goals of our progamme are to:

1. Provide the foundational knowledge about the everyday organisation and delivery of care for people living with dementia in acute hospital wards in England and Wales.

2. Use this to develop evidence based low cost interventions (e.g. care bundles and ‘hacks’) to inform changes that may lead to shorter acute hospital stays, more effective and humane management and care; all factors that mitigate suffering in patients and support ward staff.

3. Develop and deliver innovative open access training (via e learning, MOOC, short films, and VR) to support hospital staff working with people living with dementia.

4. Collaborate with people living with dementia, their families and the wider public through an ongoing programme of public consultations and events, to identify and use their priorities to inform our research and to shape how we use our findings to improve hospital care.

5. Use a wide range of artistic and visual methods that support people who may find it difficult to communicate their experiences or convey hard to express emotions about their care.

6. Challenge the wider social inequalities experienced by people living with dementia and their families through a sustained collaboration with film and the arts to improve access to art and culture and increase diversity.

What unites our approaches to research, our commitment to involving people living with dementia in our research, and our programme of using our research findings to develop evidence-based no cost interventions, is to improve services for people living with dementia. Whether that is attending a cinema screening or their admission to acute care, this programme is also about bringing sociology back to its roots- our goal is one of achieving radical social change.
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