A new project is up and running!

Last week Senior Research Fellow Teresa Atkinson and Research Assistant Jen Bray got to go on a road trip to East Sussex to carry out the first stage of data collection on a new research project. They headed down to a new Abbeyfield housing scheme which is a care-enabled scheme – different to our previous experiences of extra care housing – that fits with Abbeyfield’s goals for combatting loneliness and social isolation. The scheme has developed a Community Link Worker role with the aim of enabling tenants who may be at risk of social isolation to enjoy an enriched lifestyle, reduce the impact of loneliness, and improve wellbeing.

Artist's impression of the new scheme, showing a large 3-storey building surrounded by trees, shrubs and blue skies

The Association for Dementia Studies has been commissioned by the Abbeyfield Research Foundation to evaluate how the new Community Link Worker role works in practice, finding out what works well or not so well, where improvements can be made and how the role impacts on tenants and staff. In addition to a literature review conducted by Dr Julie Barrett, the research will be conducting surveys, interviews, focus groups and case studies to ensure that tenants and staff are involved throughout, and their views and experiences are captured.

The trip to visit the scheme was really useful as it helped us to understand how a care-enabled scheme works and kicked off the main data collection phase of the project. It was a great opportunity to meet the tenants in an informal setting at their regular ‘drinks and nibbles’ evening, with the chance to introduce ourselves and explain why we were there. A series of initial case study interviews had been organised by the scheme, where we got to talk with tenants who we will be following over the course of the project to see the impact of the Community Link Worker on their daily lives. We also carried out a focus group with the staff team to capture their perspectives and how they are anticipating the Community Link Worker role will pan out in the future.

We held the first project Advisory Group meeting to make sure that the project is on track and going to plan, as well as gaining feedback and ideas on what could be done differently to improve the research. We also had an opportunity to meet and talk with the newly-appointed Community Link Worker to find out about how they view the role and what they are hoping to achieve.

After a chance to say farewell to the tenants, we headed back to Worcester enthused and excited to see what happens in the next phase of the project. We’d like to say a huge thank you to the staff and tenants for making us feel very welcoming and inviting us into your homes. We look forward to seeing you again soon.


2 thoughts on “A new project is up and running!

  1. Sounds like a really wonderful project.
    Community engagement is so often overlooked. I am interested to see how the people in the extra care housing feel?
    Is this a priority for them?


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