To assess the feasibility of evaluating the impact of Solva Care
Principal / Lead investigator
- Bridie Evans, PRIME, Swansea University
Co-investigators / research team
- Pippa Anderson, Swansea University
- Fran Barker, Solva Care
- Sarah Burns, Solva Care
- Sue Denman, Solva Care
- Lena Dixon, Solva Care
- Claire Hurlin, Hywel Dda University Health Board
- Hayley Hutchings, Swansea University
- Ashra Khanom, PRIME, Swansea University
- Kym Thorne, Swansea University
Type of study
An ageing population and rising incidence of chronic illness places an unprecedented demand on health and care services internationally. UK health and social services and local authorities are seeking innovative ways to deliver preventative and appropriate care to older people and keep them living at home for longer. Families and communities could contribute towards this agenda.
Solva Care is a community project to improve people’s health and quality of life. It was set up in 2015 in response to community demands for local support services for individuals and families. Currently Solva Care coordinates a team of volunteers who visit older and more vulnerable people who need help with daily tasks and also provide respite support to carers.
To establish the feasibility of describing and assessing the impact of the Solva Care model in order to inform design and conduct of future research.
We used mixed methods incorporating: review of documents; review of routinely collected health and social care data held in the SAIL databank; questionnaires to participants and a community survey; and focus groups. We also attended a community workshop and held discussions with leaders of the Solva Care team.
We received a 79% response rate to questionnaires with clients and volunteers and 80% response to a community survey. We carried out two focus groups, one each with clients and volunteers. 84% of questionnaire respondents agreed to their data being linked with routine data held in the SAIL databank, which we successfully undertook.
Solva Care records show increasing demand for services, which include dog walking, shopping, visits, transport and respite. Clients reported slight or moderate difficulties with some aspects of daily health and scored overall health lower than volunteers. Two thirds of clients and nearly half of volunteers used hospital services or visited a GP in the past three months. Clients valued Solva Care for providing practical and emotional support which enabled them to remain independent and active in the community. Volunteers found their role rewarding and increased self-worth. They identified occasions when support enabled clients to remain at home or return home from hospital, despite poor health. Most Solva residents believed Solva Care was good for the community.
We demonstrated the feasibility of describing and assessing impact of Solva Care. The service appears to be needed and may have the potential to reduce use of unscheduled care services and length of hospital stay. Further research is needed to define the Solva Care model, assess impact on health services and participants and potential generalisability.
This feasibility study is a collaboration between Swansea University and Solva Care. Academic partners have contributed research expertise while community members were actively involved in identifying the research was needed, providing knowledge of the community and the Solva Care project plus giving practical support to undertake data collection and dissemination. We have found that this partnership approach helps ensure the needs and priorities of community members contribute to the research and help ensure it is rigorous and relevant.
Who is the study sponsor?
Hywel Dda Health Board
Total grant value
How could this research potentially benefit patients?
We found that the Solva Care project is needed and valued by the community. It has the potential to keep people living longer in their homes despite poorer health. It may also reduce unplanned use of health services and the length of time people stay in hospital because there is some support when they come home. Our research could help the Solva Care group and potential funders decide how to plan and deliver this service in the future.