• Images of picture cards used as prompts for purposeful conversations
  • Images of picture cards being sorted into important, not important and don't like.
  • Info card ideal home game

Capturing the voice of care home residents

Residents represent the critical link in our research into the built environment of care homes. We have been working on developing empathetic and novel ways to ensure their voice is captured. Empathy is crucial in order to ensure they can easily relate to the context of a conversation we wish to have with them about the nature of their home.  This means not only lightening up the academic processes as much as possible without threatening research ethics, but also developing a way that encourages them to want to talk to us and stay focused on a discussion about the built environment.

Our work has involved investing time in relationship building to try and become familiar faces in the homes and the issues we have found as being important to them (such as access to toilets, visitors and 'something to do'), don't necessarily translate to issues related to the 'built environment' for them. We have therefore adapted an idea from Dianne Willcocks et al. (1981) using a set of picture cards that illustrate elements of the care environment and we are using these to elicit conversations with residents. 

We were aiming at a type of ‘interview’ through supported conversations and used the concept of picture cards for context, to trigger conversations and neutralise the formality of an interview-like situation. We were conscious that formal interviewing of residents in their care home, was less likely to yield criticism of that home and, as described by Willcocks et al., they are more likely to want to give the ‘right’ answers and please the interviewer.

We created images which were deliberately bright and comic book style to kick-start a conversation which was recorded to allow the researcher to concentrate on the resident and the conversation. The images were arranged in sets to emulate a journey through a mythical care home based on the built environment issues which had arisen out of interviews with visitors and staff and on information from research literature.

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