Digital Innovations in Healthcare and Education

Can Health Care Assistant training improve the relational care of older people? A development and feasibility study of a complex intervention

Project Duration

January 2014 - December 2015


NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme

Project Staff

  • Prof Tony Arthur CI 2
  • Prof Heather Wharrad 1
  • Prof Jill Maben 3
  • Dr Caroline Nicholson 3
  • Dr Garry Barton 2
  • Prof Karen Cox 1
  • Prof Justine Schneider 1
  • Clare Aldus 2
  • Dr Sophie Sarre 3
  • Marcus Barker 1

Staff Institutions

  1. The University of Nottingham
  2. The University of East Anglia
  3. King's College London


  1. Understand the 'values-based' training needs of HCAs in maintaining the dignity of, and affording respectful care to, older patients in acute NHS settings
  2. Develop a 'values-based' training intervention for HCAs designed to address the identified needs of older patients for high quality relational care
  3. Assess the feasibility of a study that can formally test the performance and cost effectiveness of the developed training intervention for HCAs against current training in improving the care of older patients in acute NHS settings


Mixed methods over two phases.

Phase One: 

  • Survey of 168 NHS Acute Trusts
  • Interviews with 30 HCAs from three acute NHS Trusts in England (10 per Trust)
  • Three focus group interviews with established community groups of older people regarding their perceptions of how HCA training can improve care

Development of a 'value-based' training intervention for HCAs will also take place in Phase One.

Phase Two: 

Feasibility study of a 'value-based' training intervention for HCAs to develop in Phase One to inform the design and viability of a future definitive trial. 

This will consist of randomly allocating wards at each trust to either the new HCA training intervention or training as usual and tell us 

  • i) the likely success of a definitive trial 
  • ii) key information about the optimal design features of a successful trial (for example, recruitment strategies and outcome measures)

Stage of Development

This is a current project.

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Contact for further information

Professor Tony Arthur



Digital Innovations in Healthcare and Education Research Group

The University of Nottingham
School of Health Sciences
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2HA

telephone: +44 (0)115 823 0909