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5 Dec 2022

Dorothy's story – involving care home residents in research

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Dorothy’s story – involving care home residents in research

Dorothy is 92 and is a resident in a care home in Stockton. She has been working with the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria (NENC) to help to develop health and social care research.

Dorothy has been in the care home for the past four years after struggling with mobility issues. She jumped at the chance to get involved in something that would stretch her mind and give her something to do.

She has been involved in a study that is developing a Falls Prevention Checklist, and shared her observations about the logistics of staff spending time filling in spreadsheets and a bureaucratic checklist rather than answering residents’ calls.

This has helped the research team to look again at how the information is collected and to keep the checklist in residents’ bedrooms, for example.

She said: “I was keen to do something instead of just sitting. I didn’t feel I did much in the first study, but people seem to want to get my input. I give a hand where I can.”

Ben, who is the Care Home Deputy Manager said: “She has got some great skills, and feeling useful means she has been able to shine. We have seen a real difference in Dorothy just being involved in something, she has so much to offer.”

Dorothy was also involved in a trial of some virtual reality equipment that gave her the experience of being in a hot air balloon. She loves excitement and danger and is a self- confessed thrill seeker. The care home are now looking at the possibility of her doing a hot air balloon ride for real.

Originally from South Shields Dorothy met her husband, who was an engineer in the Merchant Navy, at a dance. They got married and had two sons, one of whom still lives in the North East.

Before retiring, Dorothy was a teacher in a secondary school and then went on to become a lecturer at a Further Education College teaching business studies and accountancy, then joined the TVEI (Technical and Vocational, Education Initiative).

Ben’s story 

Ben, the Deputy Care Home Manager, has also shared his reflections on how taking part in research benefits the care home residents and staff, in this video below.


(With thanks to the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria for producing this film)