Research update from Professor Tracey Williamson

CHARM (Care Home Action Researcher in Residence model) 

The Dunhill Medical Trust (DMT) recently interviewed Professor Tracey Williamson, and her colleagues on the CHARM study that they co-funded with the Alzheimer’s Society. The interview has been turned into the first blog on DMT’s new website and can be found here.  The CHARM study had been paused for a few months due to the pandemic but restarted in October and will run for a further year. The study is developing a research culture in care homes by working very closely with staff, residents and families.


PHD studentship to explore a regional approach to establishing Meeting Centres

Professor Tracey Williamson has collaborated with colleague Dr Shirley Evans who led a bid to secure funding from The Shaw Foundation for a PhD studentship commencing early 2021. The University of Worcester also half-funded the studentship which will focus on exploring a novel regional approach to establishing community Meeting Centres for people and families affected by dementia. The area for investigation focusses on the factors affecting the regional take-up of Meeting Centres for people affected by dementia across a geographic region such as a local authority or city council. It will investigate how best may these be tackled, and what lessons they have for the regional development of Meeting Centres in the UK. Interviews for the fully funded full-time PhD studentship take place in late November. Tracey will be a supervisor along with Professor Dawn Brooker, also from the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester.


Get Real with Meeting Centres

Professor Tracey Williamson is also a co-applicant on a bid led by her colleague Professor Dawn Brooker funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This is one of the successful funded projects from the 2019 Research for Social Care Call. The project’s working title is “Get Real with Meeting Centres” and will investigate what makes Meeting Centres sustainable. Meeting Centres opened in the UK in 2015 and there is good evidence that they help people cope better. They are set up and run by community groups, funded by members’ subscriptions, fundraising and grants. Meeting Centres are low-cost and provide accessible on-going social care. Thirteen have been set up, with twenty planned by 2021. There is a danger that Centres may struggle to keep going after 1-2 years, particularly in rural areas. Research needs to move from ‘how to set up a Meeting Centre’ to ‘how to keep one going long-term’ and will focus on three well-established Meeting Centres that have running for longer than three years, to see how they have managed to succeed. The Centres include Leominster (rural); Droitwich Spa (semi-rural); and Powys (rural Wales). These are all in rural communities, as these areas are more difficult to sustain compared to towns and cities that often have more resources.

Interviews will be carried out with members (people with dementia and family carers/friends), staff, volunteers, trustees, health and social care staff and volunteers about their views. Importantly, this will also include their views on what they are willing to pay to attend the Centre and the value they place on this. This project will support the growth of more Meeting Centres to support people in desperate need. Service users and members of the public are central in guiding this research and Meeting Centre members and staff will be involved in all stages of the project from design to sharing of findings.


Social Prescribing

Social prescribing is an interest in the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester and Professor Tracey Williamson is on a national Special Interest Group Steering Group to promote social prescribing in the nursing profession.

Tracey is leading the Group’s research endeavours and its first bid for £40K has been funded through Health Education England. The project will explore suitability of third sector practice learning experiences and placement sites for social prescribing placements for nursing, Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) e.g. physiotherapists and medical students in Greater Manchester.

The team will apply a multi-professional education model they have developed.  Tracey will also lead the follow on study to look at rolling out implementation of the framework and will hopefully be securing the University of Worcester on that bid also, perhaps as a pilot site.  The model is called the Personalised Care Interprofessional Education Framework (PerCIE): Social Prescribing Placement Curriculum Document and Guiding Principles for Undergraduate/Postgraduate Health and Social Care Students. Tracey hopes that by educating professionals about social prescribing and the value of community placements not just traditional hospital placements, will make them more aware of non-medical approaches to supporting family carers and patients.


From time to time we will provide information here about research involvement or participation that we think may be of interest to carers on our Research Opportunities page. Researchers are welcome to email with a summary of their request to post information and carers can then contact researchers directly to express their interest.