We’re a group of researchers, from different disciplines who are working together to try and improve the lived experience of older people. Nearly everyone wants to stay in their own home for as long as they can. But sometimes this isn't possible, and some people have to start thinking about alternatives, such as a care home. These decisions can be difficult, especially when we are all led to believe ‘home is best’. What will help people live as well and as safely as possible? Home may not always be best when life becomes a struggle of having to manage and so the pros and cons of moving into care need to be decided.
Because this decision is usually only considered following some kind of health or social care crisis, individuals are not always well enough to be able to make informed choices. So the task of choosing an appropriate home falls to someone else, such as a close relative or significant other. Should the individual not have the capacity to make decisions, then a person formally appointed with Power of Attorney for that individual will make these decisions. Sometimes people are well aware of what their friend’s or relative’s decision may have been. But often they are not and have never had the conversation about what the person would want. What matters to people making these choices, and what happens if their first choice isn’t possible? A wide range of issues such as safety, companionship, independence, dignity, emotional attachment to places and people, even care of pets may be important but may not all be discussed. Do people living in remote and rural areas, where transport links may be poor, have different priorities compared to people living in cities?
We are planning a research project looking at the experiences of people who have had to make this decision, to understand what mattered to them and what would have helped. We plan to use these experiences to design and test ways to improve the discussion for each individual, perhaps by developing a structured set of topics to cover in the conversation. Have you had to make the decision about going home versus going into a care home, for yourself or a friend or relative? If you’re in a care home has it changed your thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of care homes? Are you a member of health or social care staff who has helped people making choices about care?
If so, we’d love to hear from you. We’d like to know, for example:
- Does this sound like an important topic to you?
- Who do you think we need to talk to in our research?
- What issues do we need to be aware of?
- Are we missing anything important?
- What do you think might help people and their relatives when making decisions?
We also want to include members of the public as partners in our research team, so if you’d be interested in getting involved further, please let us know.
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