Over the last year, the VIVALDI team have been visiting different care homes from around the country. We are hoping to learn about how care settings vary and to speak to residents, relatives and staff about their experiences and some of the challenges that they have faced in relation to the pandemic. We would also like to understand what matters to them. The learnings from these visits will be applied to our current research studies, and will help to shape plans for our future research. This will ensure that our research is relevant and accessible to all members of the care community.

Five members of the VIVALDI study research team visited The Close care home in Oxfordshire in January 2023. We were given a tour of the facilities by Sanjay, the owner of the care home, and had the opportunity to speak with some of the people who live and work at the care home. A few members of the team also attended an evening event which was held for residents’ friends and families.

“It was great to find out more about research in Social Care and is very exciting for us as a team knowing that we will be taking part. Having the experts on site to explain in detail the research that we will be part of to the residents, Staff and Families was such a positive experience.”

Tania Kent Home Manager (Registered), Clinical

The VIVALDI team heard about some of the innovative approaches that the care home has developed to improve the quality of life and enjoyment for residents. We found out from care staff and residents about what their day-to-day routine looked like which will help us to think about what kind of research activities might slot into these daily schedules comfortably. A key goal for us as researchers is to understand – as completely as possible – the environment in which we’ll be conducting this research. Having Sanjay and the team give up their time to so extensively talk through their day-to-day routine was extraordinarily helpful in terms of our next steps. This gave us far greater insight into things like logistics, processes, and how care homes can also benefit from being involved in research like the VIVALDI study. Another important factor – as Sanjay pointed out – is that engaging in research can feel quite clinical, so these discussions with the team in The Close are crucial to helping us maintain the ‘human touch’ as we conduct the study.

This also includes the duty that we have to be considerate in the way we communicate with residents – it’s extremely important that we maintain a sense of respect and gratitude throughout, as well as doing what we can to benefit residents in return. This could be accompanying residents on a walk, to the café at The Close, or bringing magazines & puzzles with us. Insights into the daily routine of staff and residents in care homes were invaluable, and are helping us to shape our current research studies.

We also talked to members of staff about how best to share our research findings. One suggestion was to organise study days for care staff where results can be shared. Our long-term goal is to develop a range of approaches that we can use to communicate effectively with residents, families and staff.

Overall, the VIVALDI team really enjoyed their day at the Close care home, and we are very grateful to residents, staff, relatives, Sanjay and Tania for letting us visit, and for being so generous with their time. We are looking forward to continuing our work with The Close and to more visits to a range of different care homes in the coming months.