How can we make group homes more homely? New research project!

The Feeling at Home research project - we are looking for people to take part

When people with learning disabilities live together in a house or flat with staff support, we can be fairly sure that the place they live is safe and clean. But do they feel ‘at home’? And how do staff help them feel ‘at home’? What do family members feel about the ‘homeliness’ of where their relatives live? How do we make sure that places where service users live feel homely, rather than impersonal and institutional?

In this research project we want to find what helps people with learning disabilities living in group homes feel at home where they live and what gets in the way. We will use a participatory photography method called Photovoice to make it easier for people with learning disabilities to share their views through photos and captions. People will take photos in their own homes and discuss them together in a Photovoice focus group. We will share the photos through a public exhibition and invite visitors to reflect and comment on them.

Our findings will lead to the production of new resources for staff and service providers that will help create more ‘homely’ places for service users to live.

You can visit our website for more information about the project Feeling at Home

We are now recruiting people with learning disabilities who live in group homes in London and Brighton for our Photovoice focus groups. Do you want to take part? We have made some videos that explain what happens if you are interested: [Feeling at Home Participant Information - YouTube](https://Participant information)

We would also like to interview residential support staff and residents’ family members to hear their views. Here is an advert Feeling at Home advert_Family and Staff v2.1.pdf (359.5 KB)
that you can send round to staff teams and relatives.

We are very happy to speak to staff teams to give them more information about the project and explain how they can invite residents to take part. We are happy to explain the project individually or at a team meeting.

For any questions or to take part, please contact Katy on 07791 071850 or

Please note: our Feeling at Home project was approved by the Health Research Association’s Social Care Research Ethics Committee on the 18th November 2021.

1 Like

What a wonderful initiative. I hope when the time comes for my son to live in a group home this study will have been successful and enable him to feel happy, safe, comfortable and HOMELY wherever he stays. I wish you all the very best.

1 Like

Hi Katy - any info about your timeframe for this important piece of research … when do people need to contact you by? Annie

1 Like

I agree, and I don’t want to gatecrash this thread - for my own work, I’d really like to know what qualities, characteristics and expectations people with learning disabilities have of their support workers.

We all have a view of what we think are important qualities to possess when working with people with learning disabilities, but what do these people actually want and need, what is important to them.

1 Like

Thank you! I hope our findings will benefit your son. We will share the findings and resources widely.

1 Like

Hi Annie,

Thanks for your message and interest in the project. Our deadline for the staff and family interviews is May 2022.

We are planning to start the Photovoice focus groups with residents in January, so we are hoping to get in touch with residents asap.

I’m happy to chat on the phone to explain the process a little more if that helps?

Thanks and best wishes,

Thanks - that’s helpful to know.
I was planning to share your ‘call’ for participants in PMLD LINK’s journal, but it won’t be out until the new year - so needed to check if there would be time for people to get involved.
Hopefully we can come back to you to share your findings please? Thanks, Annie

This will be a useful piece of research.

We are looking at developing Supportive Housing of approximately 15 self contained apartments with support and or care via a Domicillary Care Agency. One of my concerns is that the numbers may be prohibitive regarding the homely aspects. Any opinions wellcome.

Thank you Barbara

Best wishes

Barbara Hobbs

BHC and Training with a Smile

Some ideas and links to further reading at The last homely house – Peter Bates



Ok Annie. I have just noticed the subject ‘How can we make group homes more homely?’ We are a day service.

Thanks Maggie

Hi Maggie

We are really keen to meet people attending day services in the London area in particular to invite them to join in the research if they live in a staffed setting with other people with learning disabilities. We will be running groups using the PhotoVoice method. This means group members will be give cameras to take photos of their home environments that we will reflect on in the groups. Each group will be co-led by a researcher and a person with learning disabilities.

The groups can be hosted by day services if that works best for participants, otherwise they will be held in a convenient community setting. We can help with travel costs for participants and carers.

We really want to include people with higher support needs as well. Project staff can assist with taking photos and we have lots of ideas for encouraging reflection on people’s photos using approaches such as Talking Mats.

We will have a public exhibition of the photos in Brighton in July 2022. This will not only showcase the creativity of our photographers, but also give the wider public the chance to understand and think about the daily lives of people with learning disabilities.

Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss this further! We can also send you publicity material to share with your service users’ families and care staff - we want to interview them as well wherever they live.

You can reach us via email or

Excellent idea and I am looking forward to learn of your results

1 Like