The majority of my research has focused on developing practice in the care of older people and family carers in a variety of settings. For example I have been privileged to take a key role in the development and testing of the ‘Senses Framework’ (Nolan et al 2002, 2007).
Several major research studies have shown this framework to be effective in creating an enriched environment of care for older people in a variety of clinical settings and it has been used by a wide range of clinicians and researchers both nationally and internationally, for example, the EU funded project Services for Supporting Family Carers of Elderly People in Europe: Characteristics, Coverage and Usage: EUROFAMCARE, which employed the Senses Framework as an analytical lens.
This six country study looked at the support needs of family carers across Europe. As UK co-ordinator I was responsible for developing an extensive questionnaire which was translated and used in 6 countries. As a result colleagues and I were invited to address members of the European Parliament in relation to the needs of family carers across Europe and I also appeared on national television in Poland to discuss carer issues.
The ‘Senses Framework’ has also been highly influential in the UK being frequently cited in health policy in the UK in documents such as Care 21 Scotland, and the National Service Framework for Older People for example. The findings from my own doctoral thesis ‘Student nurses’ experience of learning to care for older people in enriched environments: a constructivist inquiry’, which used the Senses Framework to explore factors which supported student nurses in choosing to work with older people contributed to ‘My Home Life’, a national initiative aimed at improving quality of life of those living and working in care homes.
Following on from my thesis I gained a research grant from NHS Education Scotland (the PLACE study) to develop and introduce an a toolkit designed to profile the clinical learning environment from the perspective not only of students, but also of qualified nurses, care assistants, older people and family carers. The Senses Framework has also been highlighted by the Commission on improving dignity in care in their recent report ‘Delivering Dignity: Securing dignity in care for older people in hospitals and care’.