Health and social care improvement

The results of work under this theme inform the development and delivery of services and care provision, and the planning of future public policy. We work to ensure that future public policies and care services meet the needs of their populations through user informed evidence based research that promotes person-focussed approaches to health and social care. To this end our work a) ensures the voices of people using and delivering health and social care services are embedded into our research practice; b) contributes to understanding of factors that influence health, and peoples’ decisions to engage with health and care services; c) identifies areas for service improvement; d) empowers professional and family caregivers.


  • Our work on how older people evaluate their need for assistance formed the basis of an Ageing Well in Wales workshop around how people identify services; what encourages people to use services; what barriers stop people from using services; and how can we design more effective services for older people? A mixture of people attended the workshop, including from third sector organisations, private businesses, professional practitioners, and the general public.
  • Our work on social exclusion and health in later life was selected for inclusion in the Understanding Society 2018-2019 annual report ‘Insights’ which showcases research using Understanding Society data.
  • People living with dementia that converse naturally in Welsh need to be supported to discuss their symptoms and feelings in their mother tongue. The 2011 Welsh Language measure finally gave equal status to both English and Welsh languages in Wales, however, there is only limited research into the experiences of native minority groups in terms of Dementia Care. The Welsh Government have commissioned research to validate the Welsh language translation of the cognitive assessments for clinical practice.
  • People with memory loss, confusion or difficulty concentrating (cognitive impairment) are far less likely than others to visit a dentist or have their eyesight checked. This is despite increased recognition of dementia, including the development of national dementia plans and specific NICE guidelines. This suggests they need more support to access preventive health services. NIHR Evidence - People with cognitive impairment are missing out on sight and dental checks - Informative and accessible health and care research.


Research projects:

  • Validation of Welsh Language Dementia Assessment tools. Iaith Cymru, Catrin Hedd Jones, £90,000.  01/01/2022 - 31/10/2023.

  • Short breaks for people living with dementia and their carers: exploring wellbeing outcomes and informing future practice development through a Social Return on Investment approach. Gill Toms, Diane Seddon, Carys Jones and Rhiannon Tudor Edwards, £206,880.  01/10/2020 - 30/09/2022.

  • Social exclusion and use of care services in Wales: experiences of people with cognitive impairment and dementia. Catherine Macleod. Health and Care Research Wales Social Care Fellowship, £269,300.00. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2020.  For more information click here.

  • Short breaks for carers: a scoping review. Diane Seddon. Funder Shared Care Scotland, £6,000.  01/02/2019 - 30/04/2019.

  • The application of Systems Thinking Approaches to the development of integrated care services for adults with complex care needs: a systematic review. Diane Seddon, Gill Toms, Sarah Fry. Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship.  Company partner Gwynedd Local Authority, £14,751.  01/12/2018 - 30/11/2019.

  • Everyday lives: exploring the experiences of people with a learning disability in the early stages of the new Social Services and Wellbeing Act (2014) Wales Diane Seddon, Anne Krayer, Daron Owens. Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship. Company partner Mencap Cymru, £53,476. 01/07/2016 - 30/06/2019.

  • Mind for You – analysis of routinely collected data to explore the impact of short breaks for carers supporting someone with dementia. Diane Seddon and Gill Toms. Ongoing.

  • Embedding Dementia Care Mapping in practice across Wales: A national approach. Ian Davies-Abbott with Public Health Wales. 01/06/2016 - 30/03/2019.

  • Discourse and dementia: influencing social change through the positive experiences of people with dementia. Ian Davies-Abbott, PhD: Bangor University. Supervisors: Jaci Huws, Sion Williams and Carys Jones. 12/10/2015 - 31/12/2019.


Social Care Innovations Lab (#SCIL):

Recognising the importance of public and professional involvement in social care research, #SCIL is an initiative hosted by the Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research that is designed to support creative approaches to research development and knowledge exchange (  #SCIL is underpinned by three key principles that are essential to generating robust research evidence that informs the realisation of policy and practice objectives – involving, innovating and improving.

#SCIL Labs meet in an actual or virtual space with, for example, pop-up labs in community settings to share ideas, experiences and understandings.  They provide opportunities that are in short supply:  

  • It is rare to explore social care research ideas with lots of different people who see and approach a topic from different perspectives 
  • It is rarer still for all these different people to listen to each other and start thinking together in a supportive environment that recognises the value of co-produced research   

Acting as a connecting hub, #SCIL also facilitates knowledge exchange between people, enabling them to share ideas and evidence that contributes towards the achievement of well-being outcomes, continual professional development and quality improvement of services  


Meaningful short breaks for carers and people with complex care and support needs:

Building on an established carer research programme at Bangor, the meaningful short breaks research stream is addressing an area of international concern as policy makers and practitioners seek to develop flexible approaches to service provision that support positive, sustainable caring relationships.   Having mapped the evidence base for short breaks for carers for older people (, current research projects include Co-creating, Commissioning and Delivering Meaningful Short Breaks – integrating research, policy and practice funded by the Welsh Government.  Members of the School of Health Sciences (DS) have played a key role in establishing a UK-wide Short Breaks Research and Practice Development Group that is shaping a future research agenda and supporting capacity building and research excellence in an under-researched area.  The Group acts as the UK link for the International Break Exchange Network.


Other social care projects addressing how to improve the quality of care and services:

Social care research projects address some of the key principles underpinning the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, including multiagency working, voice and control and prevention and early intervention:

  • Multi-agency working – The application of systems thinking approaches to support the development of integrated care services for adults with complex care needs involves a systematic review of the evidence base and collaborative working with a local authority to develop be-spoke recommendations for their organisation.
  • Prevention and early intervention – Night Owls: exploring unscheduled care at night involves a scoping review, the analysis of routinely collected data on an innovative service (providing unscheduled support during the night-time to relieve pressure on the 999 service) and interviews with older people.  Outputs include be-spoke satisfaction and outcomes tools.
  • Voice and control – Everyday lives: exploring the experiences of people with a learning disability in the early stages of the new Social Services and Wellbeing Act (2014) Wales  involves a systematic review and narrative interviews with people living with a learning disability and their families as well as key professionals in the statutory and independent sectors.