A team of University of Winchester researchers have helped pioneer an award-winning approach to care for older people at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

The Health and Wellbeing Research Group from the University’s Department of Psychology was involved in the evaluation of a new staff training scheme being run by Clifton Ward at the hospital in Winchester, part of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The project was found to be such a success that has now been recognised with a national Nursing Times Award for best care of older people, and a regional win in the Wonderful Workforce Solution of the Year category at the Health Education Wessex Shine Awards.

The work was originally supported by The Health Foundation’s Shine programme – which was designed to allow health care practitioners to try out new ideas.

Staff on Clifton Ward – an acute rehabilitation ward for older people – wanted to try out the concept of recovery coaching with patients. Training was given to everyone involved in caring for patients on the ward – from the doctors, nurses and therapists, to the housekeepers.

The aim of recovery coaching is to help patients prepare for life at home after their stay in hospital. Winchester’s team of academic researchers found that by involving patients in their recovery, staff made it easier for them to return to a routine daily life. Staff also felt that a recovery coaching approach was more caring, helped them to work more closely as a team and patients become more independent.

Dr Debra Gray, Reader in Social Psychology, Dr Merce Prat-Sala, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, and Dr Kirsty Ross, Lecturer in Psychology, were all involved in evaluating the impact on patients and staff.

“We are delighted that the recovery coaching project has received so much positive attention,” said Dr Gray. “It’s been a really exciting project to work on, and more importantly, it has the potential to make a real difference to the rehabilitation of elderly patients.

“We look forward to many successful future collaborations between the Department of Psychology’s Health and Wellbeing Research Group and Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.”