Gardens and outdoor spaces in residential and nursing care homes are often under-utilised by residents, despite evidence for the many benefits for health and well-being. Care home standards for Scotland and Northern Ireland clearly suggest the need for outdoor access for residents but there appears to be no comparable requirement for England and Wales. Nature and outdoor garden spaces can be an important part of the care environment and arguably, it is the culture of the care home that influences the extent to which nature and outdoor garden spaces are incorporated into the daily living of care homes. Care home managers are responsible for ensuring that the required standards are met and establishing the organisational culture within a care home which deeply affects the quality of life of those who live and work there.
Within care home research there has been little focus on care home managers, despite frequent allusion to their impact on the culture of care. There is a need to understand how organizational culture impacts on resident experience, the extent to which this depends on the care manager, and how this relates to use of outdoor garden spaces. The research will aim to capture the variety and diversity within the care home sector and the elements of organizational culture that influence how nature and outdoor garden spaces are valued as important to the health and well-being of residents.
This PhD will address the following research question: • How can care home managers be supported to make the best use of their available outdoor green spaces, and better integrate nature into the daily lives of the staff and residents (including those with dementia), to create a culture where nature is a valued element of care home life? The student will use systematic review methods to investigate the ways in which organisational culture in care homes is understood to impact on resident experience, and how this may relate to outdoor spaces. The student will undertake primary research in a sample of care homes, using ethnographic methods to understand how nature is valued, what supports and constrains the use of outdoor spaces and the challenges to integrating nature activities into the daily routines of care homes.