Exploring experiences of loneliness and improving social care support
This study is testing a service improvement approach from healthcare in which people using and providing a service co-design changes.
SPRU Research Team
- Dr Sara Ryan, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford
- Adam Barnett, The DIPEx Charity, Oxford
- Ms Pam Bebbington (Lay Adviser), My Life My Choice
- Mr Ahmed Lambat (Lay Adviser), LMCP Care Link
- Professor Louise Locock, Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen
- Dr Angela Martin, Research Operations Manager, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford
- Professor Sue Ziebland, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford
Background to the research
When local authorities are designing and improving social care, it’s important to find good ways of involving people who use support. Our study will test out a promising way for doing this, called Accelerated Experience-Based Co-Design. AEBCD involves the people who provide and use support working together as equal partners. They use national evidence as a starting-point for discussing their experiences and designing local service improvements.
Purpose of the research
We already know the AEBCD approach for making service improvements works in healthcare. We want to see how well it works in social care, including any ways it might need adapting to make it practical and acceptable.
We will test out AEBCD in relation to improving support for loneliness.
What we will do:
- First, the research team will gather national evidence about what it feels like to be lonely and people’s experiences of using and providing support. We will do this by interviewing, across England, 40-50 people who have experienced loneliness and 20 social care staff. Staff might work in local authorities or other organisations offering support. The interviews with people who are lonely will be video-recorded. We will use clips to create a short film of ‘touch points’ demonstrating moments of positive support and where it could be improved.
- Secondly, we will test out AEBCD as a way for staff and local people to work as equal partners in improving loneliness support in Doncaster. About 30 people will be involved, split equally between staff and people who use loneliness support. There are two stages to their work:
- Workshops will be held for staff and local people to discuss the national evidence about loneliness, including the ‘touch points’ film, and to agree priority areas for improving local support.
- Small co-design groups will take one improvement idea each and work out how to put it into practice in Doncaster. Groups will include staff and local people as equal partners, co-designing change.
Throughout this work in Doncaster a researcher will be evaluating how well-suited AEBCD is to social care, through observing workshops and meetings and asking participants about their experiences of the process.
At the end of the study we will share what we find out by:
- Adding a section called 'Addressing Loneliness' to a new website called 'Socialcaretalk' (currently under development). The website aims to use peer experiences to help people understand the UK social care system.
- Sharing our findings about how the AEBCD approach works in social care.
Contact Dr Sara Ryan, University of Oxford
1 April 2020 to 31 January 2023