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Making personalised short breaks meaningful: a future research agenda to connect academia, policy and practice

Diane Seddon (School of Health Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Emma Miller (School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Louise Prendergast (School of Health Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Don Williamson (Shared Care Scotland, Dunfermline Scotland, UK)
Joyce Elizabeth Cavaye (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 2 June 2021

Issue publication date: 11 October 2021




There is a growing policy impetus to promote carer well-being through the provision of personalised short breaks. However, understanding of what makes for a successful personalised short break is limited. This paper aims to identify key evidence gaps and considers how these could be addressed.


A scoping review mapping the evidence base relevant to respite and short breaks for carers for older people, including those living with dementia, was completed. National and international literature published from 2000 onwards was reviewed. The scoping review focused on well-being outcomes, identified by previous research, as being important to carers.


Most studies investigating the outcomes of short breaks for carers supporting older people focus on traditional day and residential respite care. Although there have been developments in more personalised break options for carers, research exploring their impact is scarce. There is limited knowledge about how these personalised breaks might support carers to realise important outcomes, including carer health and well-being; a life alongside caring; positive caregiving relationships; choices in caring; and satisfaction in caring. Three priority lines of inquiry to shape a future research agenda are identified: understanding what matters – evidencing personalised short break needs and intended outcomes; capturing what matters – outcomes from personalised short breaks; and commissioning, delivering and scaling up personalised short breaks provision to reflect what matters.


This paper contributes to the development of an outcome-focused research agenda on personalised short breaks.



Funding: The work was funded by Shared Care Scotland.


Seddon, D., Miller, E., Prendergast, L., Williamson, D. and Cavaye, J.E. (2021), "Making personalised short breaks meaningful: a future research agenda to connect academia, policy and practice", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 81-94.



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