A new four-year study has been launched to investigate ways to enhance how researchers and health and social care services can use existing data to improve the care and quality of life for care home residents, families and staff.

The DACHA study (Developing research resources and minimum data set for care homes' adoption and use), backed by a sum of £2.2 million, is to be led by the University of Hertfordshire.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) says that researchers will address the need to develop robust systems that support how all the different services and individuals – such as care staff, NHS professionals, family, regulators, and social services - work together for residents’ benefit.

The organisation also announced that the study team will review how current health and social care systems work, and “explore the evidence on how to integrate data and test what a minimum dataset would need to be the key resource for all those working in and for care homes.”

Claire Goodman, professor of Health Care Research, and NIHR senior investigator said: “We rely on care homes to provide care and support to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Care homes are valued partners to the NHS providing almost all our long-term care for frail older people.”

She continued, “A more consistent approach is needed to support integrated working and ensure that planning for future needs of residents is based on the best evidence. By bringing together existing data systems, creating a minimum data set and further researching care home residents’ needs, we can make recommendations likely to improve residents’ quality of life.”

The study is to be funded by the NIHR’s Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme and is supported by NIHR ARC South West Peninsula.