Care Homes & Primary Care: Co-producing a Sustainable Relationship

We have been awarded a The Healthcare Improvement Studies (THIS) Institute fellowship to co-produce a vision for high quality primary care for people who live in care homes and how it might be achieved within current structures and resources. The fellowship will be a collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners.


The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the complex relationship between care homes and primary care and inequalities in service access and quality of care. Studies and national guidance have identified new ways of working to enable GPs and others to work well with care homes. Care home staff and residents’ priorities, however, are not the basis for these recommendations. COVID-19 demonstrated the essential work of care homes but the minimal opportunities to influence and access support. There is a need to co-produce ways of working with GP-led services that ensure people working and living in care homes are equal and valued partners.

Project aims

This project aims to develop a vision for primary care which enables consistent access to healthcare that reflects care home residents’ needs and priorities and how that can be achieved within current structures and resources.

Project activity

This fellowship will use a co-design approach (Appreciative Inquiry) working with care home staff, residents and their families, GPs, and community specialists to develop and improve services provided to care homes. Drawing on recent experiences from the pandemic it will involve group discussions and interviews to take learning from what works well to identify key principles of working together and what needs to be in place to achieve and sustain change to improve care home residents and staff access to healthcare.  

Anticipated or actual outputs and potential or actual impact/ implementation in the NHS

  • Theory of change illustrating primary care-care home relationships that enables access to healthcare to meet residents’ needs and priorities and builds and tests evidence of what works at the system level of care.
  • Website providing transparency and allowing communication with interested parties.
  • Project report and publications targeting researchers, healthcare providers, and stakeholders.
  • Presentations will be given about findings at professional conferences.

Recent activity

We are currently getting the necessary approvals to conduct the study.


This project is supported by the Health Foundation’s grant to the University of Cambridge for The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute.

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