Research shows benefits of joined up working for care homes and healthcare students

Categories: School of Health and Society

A research project led by the University of Salford has found that more collaborative training for students from different healthcare degree programmes has potential benefits for care home staff and residents, as well as for the students themselves.

The pilot study developed, implemented, and evaluated a six-week interprofessional student training placement scheme (IPE) in three care homes across Greater Manchester.

Students worked as part of a multi-disciplinary team to learn from, with and about each other, whilst supporting a small number of care home residents.

The students came from a range of professions, including Physiotherapy, Sports Rehabilitation, Nursing, Social Work, Prosthetics and Orthotics, Counselling and Psychotherapy and Podiatry. 

Weekly multi-disciplinary team meetings brought the students, care home staff, residents, academics, practice staff and practice education facilitators together to support the residents and address their goals as part of an integrated team.

Some students attended as part of their normal placement cycle, whilst others put themselves forward to join as part of a bespoke learning opportunity. There was a mix of full-time and part-time students and their placement duration spanned from six weeks to 16 weeks. The scheme included a six week ‘overlap’ period where all students were on placement at the same time. 

Dr Melanie Stephens, Senior Lecturer and Head of Interprofessional Education at the University of Salford, said: “Historically, health and social care students are often educated in isolation from other professions, yet once they are qualified, they’re expected to work in interprofessional teams to deliver the best health and social care. This means that interprofessional training environments are increasingly seen as a key stage in advancing health and social care systems. 

“Care homes are a fundamental part of the health and social care system and with demand in the sector expected to increase, it is crucial to better understand how we can improve recruitment and retention, be sustainably staffed, and promote collaborative practice.”

The pilot showed that there were benefits for all involved. Care home staff reported that the scheme enabled them to develop their own learning by gaining insight into the latest evidence-based practice, which they could then put into practice within their care home. Staff valued having “extra pairs of hands”, but more importantly, they felt students’ presence helped the delivery of person-centred care.

Residents felt that the scheme impacted positively on both their physical and emotional wellbeing. Having a diverse range of professionals available meant that their multiple needs could be addressed and being with more people improved their social connectedness. Residents also gained a sense of meaning and purpose through helping the students to learn.

Students felt that the scheme helped them to better understand different perspectives and approaches to care. Their professional identity was strengthened by better understanding their own role and the roles of those around them. They developed their personal and professional skillsets over the course of the six weeks and learned the value of working with a 'whole person’ rather than focusing on a particular aspect of an individual's care. Significantly, students also experienced a shift in perceptions regarding social care, finding it to be a more vibrant and challenging career path than they had expected.

The research project was led by the University of Salford with partners at Manchester Metropolitan University, Bolton University and the University of Manchester, and received core support from Greater Manchester Project Management Office. The project has received external funding as part of a series of initiatives from the GM Enabling Effective Learning Environments workstream.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.