Skip to main content

Research and Projects

The University of Exeter and Care Homes Knowledge (ExCHANGE) Collaboration

Theme: ARC - Public Health
Status: Live


ExCHANGE is a collaboration between organisations in Devon and the South West Peninsula concerned with the care and happiness of care home residents: PenARC; the University of Exeter; the Devon Care Homes Collaborative - a group of over 250 independent care providers committed to improving the lives of those living in their care through a programme of continual review and improvement and the South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN).

Ad hoc working between these partners has been taking place for several years, and the current 18-month project has been funded by The Alzheimer’s Society and the Dunhill Medical Trust. The objective of the Collaboration is to catalyse the existing relationships and develop and test a creative model of engaging care home practitioners and other stakeholders in research. Importantly, our project does not centre on a single provider but on many small local providers already connected and committed to improvement. 

Project Aims

The ExCHANGE Collaboration has three core aims:  

  1. To develop and sustain capacity amongst care home managers, staff, residents and carers to engage with, understand, and use research.
  2. To mobilise knowledge: that is, to open channels of multi-directional knowledge flow between the partners in the collaboration and other relevant stakeholders.
  3. To identify feasible, acceptable, and scalable research and implementation problems that are (a) relevant to the needs of people living and working in or visiting care homes and (b) for which we can obtain further funding. 

Project Activity

We will deliver the aims of the Collaboration through three complementary components:

  1. Workshops: Making Sense of Evidence Workshops, intended to provide people living and working in or visiting care homes with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to understand and engage with research and research evidence; and, Making Sense of Care Homes workshops, intended primarily for researchers.
  2. Project Generation Forums, intended to establish local priorities for a care-home centred research agenda, enabling co-design of research projects between care-home staff and residents, community stakeholders (including family members of residents), and researchers, that is flexible and responsive to the needs and expertise of the groups involved.
  3. Knowledge Brokers, to span or bridge the gap between research and practice communities by supporting the exchange of knowledge and values

The project will be evaluated, based on an underlying theory of how we envisage the collaboration to work, to understand and assess the success of our partners in working together to deliver the three core aims of the project. Qualitative methods will be used to generate insights into the perceived barriers and facilitators to the collaborative model, what worked well and less well, and the outcomes of the collaboration (intended and unintended).

Anticipated Outputs

1. We will present relevant findings of what we learn and achieve at relevant national and international conferences, through plain language summaries and offering blogposts to relevant organisations. At the close of the project we will hold a learning event for all stakeholders.

2. Two papers for the research community co-authored by researchers, practitioners, and residents / family members - the pre-publication versions of which will be made freely accessible.

3. Through working with the NIHR Clinical Research Network Ageing Speciality we will seek to help to establish an ENRICH network in the South West.


Related Projects



Others Involved

South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN)


George Coxon and Geoffrey Cox: Care Home Owners and leads for The Devon Care Homes Collaborative