School of Health Sciences and Social Work
Health and Social Care Environments
Health and social care environments are complex systems in which care is delivered. Our research largely focuses on the physical components that make up the design, attributes, and layout of the environment, and the different types of settings in which care is delivered. In line with the World Health Organisation, we are interested in improving health from the perspective of the physical, mental and social wellbeing of individuals. We apply a variety of methodologies to explore the effects of health and social care environments, including systematic reviews, experimental, observational, and qualitative designs. We regularly employ mixed methods and work in interdisciplinary teams to gain better understanding of the issues we explore. We strive to apply the most robust methodologies when designing our research studies, and embrace the logistically complex challenges this can present.
Quantifying the effects of health and social care environments on health
Our research includes exploring the effectiveness of changes to the environment on health- related outcomes. This includes looking at the design aspects of hospital environments, and different settings for the delivery of care. Recent studies have included:
- Cochrane systematic reviews on the ‘sensory environments for health-related outcomes of hospital patients’ and ‘care homes versus hospital or own homes for rehabilitation of older people’
- The HIP-HOP Flooring Study (Helping Injury Prevention in Hospitalised Older People)
- Effect of bedroom size on falls in hospital
- Design of dementia care wards for falls prevention
- The Bedscapes Study (audiovisual distraction for pain and anxiety relief during minor surgery
Exploring the psycho-social effects of health and social care environments
Our projects in this area include:
- A qualitative study of falls and injury prevention interventions and the resulting psychosocial effects for care home residents and staff
- Ageing in place: how does the home environment impact on the quality of life of informal carers of people with dementia
- Qualitative interviews as part of the The HIP-HOP Flooring Study (Helping Injury Prevention in Hospitalised Older People)
- Settings of care for homosexual men with dementia
Cross-disciplinary collaborations and networks in environmental design research
We work with the University of Portsmouth Ageing Network and Research Design Service to establish collaborations for the interdisciplinary work that we undertake. Our activities have included organising an European Science Foundation funded exploratory workshop on ‘Evidence-based environmental design for older people: From initiation to dissemination, enhancing the paradigm of design research’, which included participants from eight European countries across the disciplines of health, sociology, architecture, design, technology, psychology, and gerontology.
We are also committed to involving members of the public with our research and work with patient and public involvement groups such as the School of Health Sciences and Social Work ENGAGE group.