Ten research priorities into the care and support of those aged 65 and over in Wales have been developed by Health and Care Research Wales and Social Care Wales.
The project, run in association with the James Lind Alliance, developed the priorities by asking nearly 400 older people, carers and social care practitioners, “How can we best provide sustainable care and support to help older people live happier and more fulfilling lives?”.
Members of the public and social care professionals were invited to take part in surveys and workshops to have their say on the priorities. The members of the public were identified and supported to be involved by the Health and Care Research Wales Support Centre public involvement team. The priorities were found to be:
- Does early care planning and/or early or regular contact by social care services, help prevent problems and result in better experiences for older people than waiting until there is a crisis?
- How can we reduce isolation and stress amongst carers of older people and prevent burn-out?
- How can social care and health services, including the voluntary sector, work together more effectively to meet the needs of older people?
- How can social care for older people be tailored to the interests and needs of individuals, including better involvement in decisions about their own care?
- How can social care best support older people with complex needs (e.g. people who need support from a range of health and social care services)?
- How can social care for older people be funded in a sustainable way?
- What barriers do older people experience in accessing services (e.g. access to information, waiting times, access to online technology, communication, costs)? How can access be improved?
- How can terms and conditions, including wages, be improved for staff providing social care to older people? Will this attract more people to the profession?
- How can social care for older people be kept at a consistent high quality?
- How can home and community-based social care enable older people to socialise, reducing loneliness and isolation?
Michael Bowdery, Head of Programmes, Health and Care Research Wales, said: “It’s so important for us to engage with the people receiving and delivering care to truly understand the challenges they face and how research can help. This project has been a great example of how we can work together to establish the key areas in which research can make a difference to improving care and support and changing lives.”
The report, published in February 2021, sets out the research priorities and gives an update on the progress to date in getting research on them commissioned.
Lisa Trigg, Assistant Director of Research, Data and Intelligence at Social Care Wales said: “Working together with Health and Care Research Wales to develop a set of priorities will provide focus to the work we’re doing around research. Hearing the voices of so many older people, family carers and people working in care and support will also inform other areas of our work. We would like to thank all the people who contributed so honestly and enthusiastically.”
Caroline Whiting, Research Manager, James Lind Alliance said: “The James Lind Alliance priority setting method empowers and enables people who don’t usually get a chance to shape the research agenda to have their say. We’re delighted that Health and Care Research Wales and Social Care Wales decided to adapt the process to rapidly engage with older people, carers and frontline care workers, especially during a time when social care faces more challenges and is more important than ever.”