Current projects
Personalisation in care homes
Personalisation in care homes

Over 300,000 older people in England live in care homes, generally for the final months or few years of their lives. It is important for their dignity and wellbeing, and that of their families, that they should receive high-quality personalised care and not just ‘warehousing’. Our Evaluation of Direct Payments in Residential Care Trailblazers report found that providing personalised care for older people in care homes presents a range of challenges and that there are a number of issues that require further investigation to inform policy and practice.

This study investigates how personalisation is understood and put into practice in care homes and explores the context and challenges of providing personalised care in residential settings. To these aims, the study will review the UK and international research literature to identify approaches to personalisation, assess their effects and understand any barriers and facilitators. We will also review relevant policy documents and approaches to promoting personalisation developed by selected public sector, private and voluntary organisations. Interviews will be carried out with a selection of managers and owners of care homes for older people as well as a small number of care home provider and user stakeholder organisations. These will examine current thinking on, and any practical implications of, providing personalised care in residential care settings in England.

Please contact for further details of this project.

This study combines three approaches to investigating the concepts underpinning approaches to promote personalisation and the evidence of the effects of such approaches:

1. A comprehensive literature review
The review has two objectives. In the first instance, we will examine the concepts underpinning approaches to personalisation, especially as they have been applied to the care of older people in residential settings. For this purpose the literature on personalisation and person-centred care is reviewed with a view to map existing concepts both in the UK and internationally and to compare their content and implications. The second part of the review will identify approaches to promoting personalisation in residential care and to assess the evidence of their effectiveness, as far as possible. A realist review approach has been chosen to investigate the contexts, mechanisms and outcomes of these approaches, which will allow us to compare a variety of approaches and their effects within a diversity of organisational and system contexts.

2. A review of policy documents and documents aimed at guiding and promoting personalisation in care homes
This part of the project will trace the journey of personalisation as an item on the Government’s adult social care agenda since the early 2000s and investigate how the concept has changed over time, especially as it relates to residential care. It will also consider prominent approaches to promoting personalisation in care homes developed by a number of voluntary, public and private organisations such as the Think Local Act Personal initiative or the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

3. Interviews with managers and owners of care homes and representatives of provider and other stakeholder organisations
Much attention has been given to using direct payments as a tool to promote personalisation in the community. While this approach may have some relevance for care homes, we are keen to understand whether there are other, alternative approaches to personalisation in the context of care homes and any specific implications of providing personalised care within a residential setting for people with differing levels of care needs.

We will therefore conduct a small number of interviews (n=25) with managers and owners of care homes responsible for the care of older people. We also plan interviews with a small number of national stakeholder organisations such as those representing care home providers and user groups. These interviews aim to elicit what personalisation means for those caring for older people in residential care and how people are making this happen in practice. We are particularly interested in exploring how the term is understood in residential care, and whether this is different to ideas of personalising care in people’s own homes.

This study will report its findings in spring 2020.

Results from the study were presented at the Older People's Health & Social Care conference, held at Kings College London on 10 March 2020. The presentation can be accessed here>>