Research unit celebrates 40 years of improving social care

A research centre which is dedicated to improving care for older people, people with dementia, and others who need long term help outside of hospital is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014.

Established at the University of Kent and now split between Kent, Manchester and the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Personal Social Services Research Unit was founded in 1974.

It was originally designed to address foreseen problems with an ageing population and the greater support that older people, many with long-term health conditions, would need outside of the home.

The team at Manchester branch has had many successes in influencing policy, such as the development of case management in the UK; and developing assessment of needs including a UK replication of a policy initiated in Australia, enabling older people to have clinical assessment at home before entry to care homes – saving money and resulting in fewer admissions to hospital.

The researchers are currently working on a £2 million project funded by the National Institute of Health Research to investigate effective home support in dementia care, including whether different types of home support combine together in better or worse ways and the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different models of support.

Professor David Challis leads the PSSRU Manchester branch and was one of the early staff members based in Kent.  He said: “The idea behind the PSSRU was a response to the looming problem of an ageing society, an issue that is very much now upon us.

“Our work on dementia and home care is backed by the many decades of working with patients, health and social care providers and policy makers, which let us gain access to data and implement solutions that benefit people and conserve resources.”

As well as working with the NHS, the PSSRU also works with local authorities and increasingly private companies which operate care homes.

The Unit is also member of the highly prestigious NIHR School for Social Care Research and membership has just been renewed for a further five years, placing it among the elite of UK research centres in the field.

To find out more about the PSSRU’s 40th Anniversary celebrations, visit the dedicated website.

Notes for editors

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The University of Manchester
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Email: jamie.brown@manchester.ac.uk