Scoping and prioritising the use of near-patient diagnostics in care homes
We have successfully applied for over £50,000 from the National Institute for Health and Care Research Applied Research Collaboration for the North East and North Cumbria to examine the benefits and challenges of using diagnostic testing in care homes.
Over 400,000 people live in UK care homes. This group represents some of the most complex and vulnerable users of healthcare. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our ageing theme has investigated the current use of diagnostic testing in care homes. This formed part of the CONDOR national collaboration. The work highlighted the complexities that care homes face when managing the health of their residents.
Led by Professor Miles Witham, our ageing theme lead, this new project will further explore these challenges by gathering the views of care home staff. The work will also identify scenarios where diagnostic tests could help to tackle these issues. Tim Hicks and Dr Will Jones from the NIHR Newcastle MIC are the lead methodologists for the project. They will use a combination of surveys, group discussions and interviews to examine care home staff’s opinions. Specifically the work will ask:
- What are the common challenges care homes experience regarding diagnostics?
- Would it be feasible and acceptable to use diagnostic testing in care homes to overcome these hurdles?
- Would doing so improve the management and care of care home residents?
This work will involve collaboration with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the NIHR Innovation Observatory and Academic Health Science Network for the North East North Cumbria (AHSN NENC). A patient and public involvement advisory group will oversee our project governance, research design and dissemination plans. This was recommended to us by carers and relatives of care home residents, who we consulted with during the preparation of the proposal. We hope the work will lead to the identification of new diagnostic tests, which could be used close to the patient to help care homes manage the health of their residents.
Professor Miles Witham said:
“This is a great opportunity to not only build a foundation for important diagnostics work in this under-served area of care, but also provides an excellent example of collaborative working and join-up across different areas of NIHR and regional infrastructure.”
The National Institute for Health and Care Research Applied Research Collaboration for the North East and North Cumbria (NIHR ARC NENC) is funding this work, along with 21 other projects, as part of their 2021 open funding competition. All projects are tackling key health and social care issues across the region. The competition was very competitive with 128 applications going through the peer review process.
Read the full list of funded projects.