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Person-centred care in Northern Ireland: learning from the experiences of adult social care users

Alexandra Chapman (Ulster University, Newtownabbey, UK)

Journal of Integrated Care

ISSN: 1476-9018

Article publication date: 12 October 2020

Issue publication date: 19 July 2021




The move towards a “person-centred” or “personalised” system of adult social care has been at the heart of policy debates in Great Britain. However, policy developments in Northern Ireland are more limited than in other parts of the UK, and less attention has been paid to reforming adult social care. The purpose of this paper is to examine the views and experiences of adult social care users who receive care at home, to explore if and how a person-centred approach might work for older adults in Northern Ireland.


Using a qualitative approach, semi-structured interviews were carried out with 12 people aged over 70 years who receive social care provision at home.


The empirical findings show that social care users experienced limited involvement in their care planning process, reflecting a predominantly service-led approach. The importance of care worker continuity and consistency was crucial for all participants, particularly for maintaining discreet routines and promoting personal dignity. However many experienced different care workers which presented challenges caused by the inconsistency of carers.

Research limitations/implications

The majority of participants in the study were women, despite attempts to achieve greater gender diversity. It was also difficult to recruit a range of ethnic groups for the study. It would be important for future studies to include these groups and to ensure their voices are represented in further work in this area. Nonetheless, the findings offer valuable insight into the views of adult social care users and can form a useful basis for future studies.


The findings provide a more nuanced understanding of what people want and expect in social care to generate future policy debates and discussions in planning long-term adult social care provision in Northern Ireland. It also provides important and timely contribution to this area, where there is currently limited research and information available.



The author would like to sincerely thank those who took the time to participate in the study. The author is grateful to all those who commented on the draft,particularly Professor Ann Marie Gray and Dr Ciara Fitzpatrick and would like to acknowledge the helpful comments and detailed feedback from the reviewers. This research project, part of a PhD scholarship, was funded by the ARK Ageing Programme.Funding: This research project, part of a PhD scholarship, was funded by the ARK Ageing Programme.


Chapman, A. (2021), "Person-centred care in Northern Ireland: learning from the experiences of adult social care users", Journal of Integrated Care, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 242-253.



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