Innovation to enhance health in care homes: Rapid evidence synthesis



The aim of the proposed work is to identify and synthesise evidence underpinning new models of care to enhance health in care homes. 

Our objectives are to:

  • to determine the potential uses, benefits and challenges of technology in care homes, and for enhancing communication between care homes and partner organisation;
  • to identify flexible uses of the nursing and support workforce and innovative ways of working to benefit resident care;
  • to identify and critically describe the key characteristics and benefits of effective engagement between care homes, communities and other health related organisations, including barriers and facilitators to relationship initiation and maintenance;
  • to summarise existing evidence on approaches to evaluation of new models of care in care homes, including assessment of the quality of care received by residents.


Four linked rapid critical reviews of the available evidence will be undertaken, using systematic, transparent and well established methods. Systematic searches of health, social care and technology related databases will identify English language publications from 2000 to 2016.

Citation searching, reference list checking, expert and stakeholder recommendations will identify additional and forthcoming evidence, including reports and guidelines. Narrative and quantitative syntheses will be produced where data are available. As descriptive studies and opinion pieces will form a substantial section of the literature in some areas; they will be retrieved and the findings synthesized using content analysis.


The NHS Five Year Forward View identified a need for flexible, integrated models of service delivery to meet the changing demands of an ageing population. Six locations (vanguard sites) in England have been selected to lead on service transformation to enhance health in care homes.

Critical summaries of the research evidence are now needed, so that ongoing development of innovative models of care has a robust basis in the international empirical literature. In this proposal we will focus exclusively on care homes, where the mixed economy of care poses particular challenges for service development. We will investigate four specific areas, identified as key enablers for the vanguard programme, where an understanding of the current evidence base is needed for care home sites: use of technology, workforce, communication and engagement and evaluation. 


Principal Investigator:
Professor Barbara Hanratty, University of Newcastle

Professor Karen Spilsbury, University of Leeds 
Dawn Craig, University of Newcastle
Dr Katie Brittain, University of Newcastle
Dr John Vines, University of Newcastle
Paul Wilson, University of Manchester

Funding body: Funded by NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme (£225,885)

Contact: Professor Karen Spilsbury, University of Leeds