Background to My Home Life Northern Ireland

My Home Life Northern Ireland is a research translation and generation initiative focused on promoting quality of life and positive change in care homes.  The programme began in 2013 with a Knowledge Transfer grant from the Research and Development Office of the Public Health Agency.  It was delivered by the School of Nursing in partnership with Age NI, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) and Independent Health and Care Providers with the first 16 participants starting the programme in 2014.

Ten years ago, Assumpta Ryan, Professor of Ageing and Health at Ulster University and Director of MHL NI  published research into “Familiarity” as a key factor influencing rural family carers’ experience of the nursing home placement of an older relative. This study highlighted the factors that can improve the experience of entry to long-term care and the role of nursing home staff in facilitating a more positive transition for older people and their families.

Recognising  that nursing homes are increasingly providing care to older people with multiple and complex needs, this research found that familiarity, stability and social capital play an important part in the lives of older people and their carers

Leadership Support Programme

The My Home Life (MHL) Leadership support Programme is aimed at managers and leaders in care homes.  The programme, funded by the Department of Health, is currently being implemented in all care homes across Northern Ireland as part of a five year plan. It is delivered by a team of researchers in the School of Nursing and Paramedic Science who have a strong track record of research with older people and care homes.  Taking place over ten months, the programme supports  participants to reflect on their practice and to engage in a journey of positive culture change within their own care homes. It also includes a strand of work on enhancing community engagement with and by care homes, designed to enhance the integration of care homes into the wider health and social care system. The programme  consists of four initial workshops followed by monthly action learning  sessions.

The aim of the Leadership Support programme is to develop transformational leadership skills and embed  research into practice. It is part of an international research translation and generation initiative to improve the quality of life for people living, dying, visiting and working in nursing and residential homes. This development is pivotal to providing high quality care in nursing and residential homes.  To date, the programme has generated research funding in excess of  £2 million.

Impact of the Programme

A questionnaire, distributed to participants at the beginning, middle and end of the 2022- 2023 programme showed:

This year, My Home Life NI  celebrates ten years of success with their Leadership Support Programme. Sarah Penney (Associate Director, MHL NI) and the MHL team published research reflecting on the programme: An evaluation of the ‘My Home Life’ Leadership Support programme for care home managers (Penney et al, 2023) .

This report notes that leaders in the care home sector need to be supported to enhance the quality of care given to residents. This study explored findings from participants who  had completed the programme in Northern Ireland as well as England and Scotland.

Participants in this study recorded notable changes, particularly in feeling valued and enthusiastic about working in the care sector. The findings of this study demonstrated a significant positive change in the impact of the programme  not only on managers and their leadership but also on residents' quality of life.

The My Home Life programme has also been recommended as a catalyst for remedial change in five Department of Health reports. This has culminated in a recommendation in the ‘Reform of Adult Social Care Northern Ireland Consultation Document’ (DoH, 2022) to ‘continue the rollout of the “My Home Life” programme’ beyond the current 5-year  funding programme.

Celebration Event

This year, My Home Life celebrated some of their recent cohorts in a certificate presentation at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Programme participants were  invited to share impact stories of the programme with other attendees on the day.  The opening address was given by Noel Irwin, Care Home Policy Lead at the Department of Health who welcomed the cohorts and reflected on the impact of the Leadership Support Programme, as well as the importance of enhancing the integration of care homes into the wider health and social care arena.

Cohort participants shared the impact of the programme, with quotes including:

Cohort Quotes

“"It's good to share"

"I used to work alone and now I ask for help"

"The programme may have ended, our story has just begun"

"It's a very different type of course and a new way of learning"

"It encourages a different way of thinking: It promotes self-empowerment"

"You will learn a lot and will come away a better version of yourself"

"It is the best programme to be on. If you get an opportunity to join, jump at it"”

Quote from Assumpta

“Seeing the translation of one’s research into practice and the impact this has on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society is hugely rewarding. In 2013, we received initial funding to introduce the ‘My Home Life Leadership Support Programme’ into 16 care homes in Northern Ireland. Ten years later, the Department of Health is funding the regional roll-out of the programme to all care homes in Northern Ireland with proven benefits for people who live and work in care homes.”

Professor Assumpta Ryan

Director of MHL NI

The My Home Life programme also has the support of the  Regulation & Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) “Supporting Care Home Staff in developing their leadership skills and confidence, will undoubtedly contribute to continuous quality improvement and benefit residents and staff across the whole service. RQIA actively support the My Home Life Programme” ( Briege Donaghy, CEO RQIA).

If you would like to read more about My Home Life NI and the Leadership Support Programme, you can visit their website.