Ethnography – the long-term care revolution, Innovate UK

The long-term care revolution – insights to drive innovation in the care sector

Long-term care in the UK is facing a number of challenges including an ageing population, an increasing number of people diagnosed with dementia and diminishing financial resources to deliver care to older adults. The Innovate UK, through an SBRI Challenge, is seeking to support radical and innovative new ideas that will blow apart conventional thinking about long term care and how it is delivered in the future.

Working with the Innovate UK and The HealthTech and Medicines Knowledge Transfer Network we were commissioned to carry out ethnographic research with three broad groups of participants: people living in care homes; people working in care homes and older adults living independently in their own homes. The ages of participants ranged from people in their late forties through to people in their nineties. Using a range of tools including home tours, day in the life timelines, flashcards, social network maps and contextual interviews we were able to build up a rich understanding of peoples’ everyday lives.

Working with Susan Hewer, an independent design strategist, the research findings were analysed to identify key themes, insights and opportunities for intervention. A report entitled ‘The Lived Experience of Older Adults’ was produced, containing details of the interviews that were conducted and key messages emerging from this work. The research formed part of social and economic research activity undertaken in the scoping of the wider programme. It contributed to the development of a £2.4m SBRI Challenge to support radical new ideas for alternatives to institutional long term care in the future.

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