This week Morwenna, Alison, Jo, Kath Maguire and Ruth Garside descended on the Knowledge Spa in Truro along with 13 people who work in, manage, own or provide services to care homes in Cornwall to explore how to identify, understand and use evidence and to develop ideas to influence the local research agenda.

Our past experience with a number of care home related reviews, including reviews on mealtime interventions, gardens and outdoor spaces for people with dementia and use of antipsychotics in care homes, have highlighted the difficulty in communicating research findings to local care home providers, despite an apparent thirst for understanding and using relevant research evidence.   Our reviews of the effects of gardens and outdoor spaces for people with dementia and of older people’s sensory engagement with the outdoor environment received widespread media coverage and yet people working in care homes locally were not aware of them.

Kath kicked off the workshop with some beautiful examples of why we can’t believe everything we read in the papers and how to go about appraising the evidence.  Alison and Morwenna then demonstrated how to search for research evidence on the internet using free resources.


After a well-earned lunch (including pasties of course as we were in Cornwall), Ruth gave an overview of some of the current projects that are ongoing in the University – all detailed on our handy resource page and Jo talked briefly about the opportunity for participants to engage with and influence the local research agenda by submitting ideas to PenCLAHRC.

Lunch involved Cornish pasties… of course!

The afternoon was spent initially in small groups, discussing burning issues within care homes and sharing experiences. We were able to identify, through the discussions, issues where staff would benefit from research evidence to guide their practice and areas that are ripe for improvement.

After that we all came back together to discuss our collective thoughts. The discussion was open, passionate and inspiring and the stories the care home staff and managers shared were thought-provoking, stimulating and at times sobering.  It was noticeable that underlying all the topics discussed were three main themes – funding, communication, training and obtaining supplies and equipment in a timely way e.g. continence pads.   We spent some time thinking about how to turn the issues into researchable questions using the PICO format and many will be considered as part of the forthcoming PenCLAHRC prioritisation process.


Our care home staff left with big smiles, clearly having enjoyed the opportunity to discuss and share experiences and knowledge and keen to meet again in the future.

And so did we!  We really enjoyed meeting this group of inspiring and enthusiastic women, committed to delivering high quality care and improving it if they can.