The importance of handovers for ensuring high quality, safe and dignified care.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How information is exchanged during a shift change handover is thought to be crucial for ensuring high quality, safe and dignified care in UK care homes according to new research by the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, part of the Policy Institute at King’s College London.

The report, How do handovers happen? A study of handover at shift changeovers in care homes for older people;  presents the findings into the content, purpose and effectiveness of the handover of information about older residents between care home staff coming off duty and those coming on duty.  

The research was undertaken in five care homes based in the UK and the participants in the report included Owners/Managers, Registered Nurses, Care Assistants and Senior Care Assistants and sheds light on what the care home staff believe to be the most important factors to take into account during an effective handover.

The following factors are perceived to be the most crucial in creating an effective handover:

1. Being able to listen/hear – not too many distractions or interruptions

2. Understandable and clear communication

3. Opportunity to ask questions; feedback from everyone listened to

4. Punctuality of staff

5. Attention to confidentiality and respecting residents’ dignity

6. Production of transparent and readily available written records (possibly enabling family to review and monitor changes)

7. Viewed as important by management

8. Knowing what is expected

9. Being valued activities for which staff are paid

The report didn’t find any evidence that one type of handover works any better than any other.  Professor Jill Manthorpe, the research team lead commented, “Our study suggests the need for care homes to be clear about what they want from handovers and to do what works best for the home and its residents.’

You can view the full report here:


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