Accessibility statement

Dr Gareth O'Rourke

DipSW (Plymouth), MSc (Bristol), DSocSci (Bristol)

  • Home Instead Research Fellow

Visit Dr Gareth O'Rourke's profile on the York Research Database to see a full list of publications and browse his research related activities.


Areas of expertise

  • Older people's experience of using health and social care services
  • Personalisation in policy and in practice
  • Supporting older carers
  • Care ethics
  • Realist approaches to service evaluation

Academic biography

Before becoming a researcher, I had a long career in the caring professions, first as a nurse working mostly with older people with physical and mental frailty and later as a social worker. My social work experience was gained mostly in hospital settings, supporting older people, their families and carers through the experience of illness and frailty, and helping them to make sustainable care arrangements on discharge.

In the latter part of my social care career I held a variety of development and management posts including policy and practice development; community development; commissioning; and senior operational management. My last post was Head of Service – Adult Social Care with Bristol City Council 2017 – 2019.

I was awarded a Doctorate in Social Science in 2014. My doctoral research (undertaken in the South West of England) explored older people’s experience of using social care services, including what constituted ‘personalisation’ and how it was achieved in practice. Since then I have worked on several studies including an evaluation of the impact of Care Act implementation on older carers (University of Bristol), and a synthesis of evidence related to recovery from persistent delirium in older people (University of Exeter). Before moving to the University of York, I worked on a qualitative study exploring the experience of people living with mild or moderate dementia during Covid-19 restrictions and identifying effective ways of supporting them (Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health, University of Exeter).  


Recent publications

Price A, Ahuja L, Bramwell C, Briscoe S, Shaw L, Nunns M, O’Rourke, G, Baron, S and Anderson, R. Research evidence on different strengths-based approaches within adult social work: a systematic review. Southampton: NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research Topic Report; 2020.

O'Rourke G, Lloyd L, Bezzina A, Cameron A, Jessiman P, Smith R. Supporting Older Co-Resident Carers of Older People – The Impact of Care Act Implementation in Four Local Authorities in England. Social Policy and Society. 2020 September 11.

O'Rourke G, Parker D, Anderson R, Morgan-Trimmer S, Allan L. Interventions to support recovery following an episode of delirium: A realist synthesis. Ageing and Mental Health. 2020 July 31:1-17.

O’Rourke G. Being self in later life: maintaining continuity in the face of change. Quality in Ageing and Older Adults. 2016 17(2): 141-150.

O’Rourke G. Older People, Personalisation and Self: An alternative to the consumerist paradigm in social care. Ageing and Society. 2016 36(5): 1008-1030.


Current research interests and projects

My post is based within the Home Instead Research Programme, a partnership with Home Instead Senior Care - a large scale provider of home care services with franchises throughout UK and globally - established in January 2021. I will be working with Professor Bryony Beresford. 

I am interested in older people’s experience of using social care services including personalisation of services. I am also interested in support for carers particularly older carers. I have used care ethics as a broad framework for understanding and analysis in previous projects and wish to explore this further alongside the use of other relevant theoretical frameworks. I am also interested in making use of realist approaches to evaluation, ie identifying how specific contexts and mechanisms combine and contribute to particular outcomes.   

Home Instead Research Programme

This programme of work on homecare is funded by, but independent of, Home Instead Senior Care, one of the UK’s major providers of home care. The purpose of this programme is to improve the evidence base on home care relevant to informing policy, service delivery and practice. The programme started in January 2021 and will comprise a number of strands. These include: an evaluation of Home Instead as an exemplar of a relational model of home care; resourcing and equipping Home Instead (and other home care providers) to better understand research and how they can become ‘research ready’; and demonstrating the value of implementing routine outcomes and service experience data collection. In addition, at an early stage, we will be engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to develop a strategic research agenda that will help to promote and inform excellence in home care. It is anticipated that some of these topics will be pursued within the Programme and funding bids for relevant research activities will also flow from this.      

Supervision interests

  • Older people
  • Ageing in place
  • Older carers





Gareth ORourke

Contact details

Dr Gareth O'Rourke
Home Instead Research Fellow
School for Business and Society

Tel: 01904 32 1985