Kirsty Haunch

Kirsty Haunch


I joined the University of Leeds in 2017 as an Early Career Research Fellow. I have an academic background in Biomedical and Health Sciences with a commitment (and passion) for Social Care research. I have a developing portfolio of research, some of which I have led, and an ambition to become a leader of Social Care research.

As part of my current role, I work as a Scientific Linking Pin researcher in the Nurturing Innovation in Care Home Excellence in Leeds (NICHE-Leeds) partnership, a partnership between care organisations and University of Leeds (with Leeds Beckett). The NICHE-Leeds partnership aims to enhance quality of life, care, and work for those living and working in care homes. As a Scientific Linking Pin, I work closely with care homes, and work on bringing evidence-based solutions to questions raised by care home staff, residents, and relatives. A key contribution is ‘demystifying’ research through co-production. This involves supporting staff to articulate uncertainties about their work, engage with research activities, and develop easy read documents to translate academic knowledge into practice. Making research accessible is central to my work as a researcher.


Research interests

Research interests

The focus of my research, with and for care homes, is improving quality in the sector. Quality is a complex and dynamic concept, encompassing physical, social, psychological, and emotional dimensions, and refers to both quality of life and quality of care, and the quality of work for staff.

My doctoral study was co-developed with care home staff and focused on the everyday interactions between staff and residents living with advanced dementia. Understanding the key role of staff for quality inspired my focus on the workforce and its development. My post-doctoral research positions have focused on studies of the care home workforce: the relationship between staff and quality (NIHR 15/144/29); and effective strategies for recruitment and retention (NIHR 131016). I am also a co-applicant on the Seeking Answers for Care Home Uncertainties: Gathering, Organising and Prioritising Care Home Staff, Residents’ and Relatives and have also secured a NIHR SSCR career development award (NIHR 121562) examining co-worker relationships and how these influence care home quality. Most recently I have applied for funding to explore the potential of situational judgement tests for attracting and recruiting care home staff suited to caring for people with dementia. These are forming my next line of research inquiry.

I contribute to the wider research community by being part of the NIHR reviewer scheme and the NIHR HTA Prioritisation Committee Integrated Community Health and Social Care (A). This has enabled me to contribute to the research agenda in secondary care. I work with academic collaborators based at the University of Leeds, Northumbria University, University of Alberta and the Maastricht University to develop an international network for researchers in long-term care. I am also part of an international consortium: Worldwide Elements To Harmonize Research In long-term care liVing Environments (WE-THRIVE) which focuses on developing cross-comparative research.

I have worked hard to build inclusive research cultures in social care. My first position was working for NIHR ENRICH I recruited over 100 care homes and delivered 15 projects. I organised engagement events, training and created champion roles. I have led PPI groups for NIHR ENRICH and currently the co-lead of the NICHE-Leeds Friends and Family engagement panel to inform research prioritisation, develop new projects and support knowledge translation. Both groups have described the positive personal impact of these engagement activities and the societal importance of our research.


  • PhD Dementia Studies
  • MSc Health Sciences
  • BSc Biomedical Sciences

Research groups and institutes

  • People, systems and services