Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Senior care / Behavioural change

European Healthcare Design 2017

Extra care for older people – settings that value relationships

By Peter Lacey 22 Aug 2017 0

This research set out to explore the contribution that relationships, and the behaviours that underpin such relationships, have on the overall experience and outcomes for people taking up residence in a new-build extra-care setting.

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It was conducted through a partnership between Whole Systems Partnership, a strategic consultancy group in healthcare, and the University of Leeds’ School of Healthcare Studies.

The research was conducted in several stages. First, it reviewed the literature to identify examples where good outcomes had been achieved through a focus on a set of values or behaviours that reflect the quality of relationships in care settings for older people. Statements from this research were derived and explored with residents, staff and the wider community to arrive at a view about what was important to residents. The statements were also organised into what we have described as the attributes of relational value, namely integrity, respect, fairness, compassion and trust.

Having established what was important to residents, the team developed a questionnaire that could be used to capture the extent to which the behaviours consistent with good relationships were present in the care setting. Different ‘domains’ were built into this survey tool, covering people, culture, vision, process, infrastructure and technology. We believe the results from this demonstrate good levels of quality relationships.

This work was undertaken at the same time as a more traditional quantitative evaluation was carried out. Real benefits against a control group of people with similar levels of need were evidenced alongside the positive outcomes from the relational survey. This research is now being followed up in other locations, where benchmarks of good quality, relational care can be established. It’s hoped that the ongoing research will identify a positive correlation between good relational care and positive health outcomes. Lessons for design in healthcare can be derived from the approach and associated survey tool through its roots in systems thinking.