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New research and toolkit to provide transformative approach to care launched by OU academics

Senior woman sitting in chair laughing with a care professional in a care setting.

A new toolkit to provide practitioners with the information they need to implement ‘relational care’ in practice with older people in a range of care settings has been launched by Dr Manik Gopinath and Professor Mary Larkin at an event hosted at the House of Lords on 17th May, attended by 120 delegates

Evolving from person-centred care, relational care considers the wellbeing and quality of life of everyone involved, encompassing older people, professionals, and communities within and beyond care settings. Relational care prioritises the significance of fostering strong relationships and recognising the interdependence among people. 

The toolkit is built upon a seminal research project led by Manik and Mary, funded by the Hallmark Foundation. It addresses what relational care feels like in care settings for older people across the United Kingdom as documented in the report, the Value and practice of relational care with older people The report introduces a model and definition of relational care

Free to use and easy to follow, the toolkit offers guidance for staff teams, leaders and providers seeking to embrace a relational care approach within the care environments they work and manage. Additionally, there will be free to access, online professional development courses available via The Open University’s OpenLearn platform from March 2024. 

Dr Manik Deepak-Gopinath, Lecturer in Ageing and Professor Mary Larkin, Professor of Care, Carers and Caring at The Open University said, 'Our research has enabled a better understanding what relational care looks like and the positive impact it has on older people, their families and care providers. We know that meaningful relationships are developed in an environment that facilitates a mutual sense of belonging, trust and inclusivity, and where everyone can feel respected and valued.' 

Avnish Goyal, CBE, Chair Hallmark Foundation and Hallmark Care Homes; Chair, Care England, said, “Relational care supports happier older people, it makes our homes happier places, and it makes for happier team members. A real win-win-win which I recommend to all care providers.” 

Jenny Kartupelis, MBE, expert in relational care said, “Mutuality of relationships, enabling everyone involved to give and receive, and contribute to their community as much as they can and wish, is empowering.  Such an approach promotes belonging and resilience, and the knowledge of being valued and accepted for who you are.” 

A summary of the report can also be found online. 

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