Skip to content
Primary care

Care homes and primary care: co-producing a sustainable relationship


The relationship between care homes and primary care (which includes GPs, pharmacists, and other community specialists) can be complex, and there are often inequalities in access to healthcare for care home residents, and in the quality of the care provided.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the essential work that care homes do, but it also demonstrated how challenging it can be for care homes to access primary care support for their residents.

Although there have been studies and guidance on how GPs can work with care homes, there is a need to take into account care home staff and residents’ priorities, and to ensure those working and living in care homes are equal and valued partners.

This project aims to build a comprehensive picture of the current relationships between care homes and primary care, and to find out what has worked well and what factors contribute to successful partnerships.

This insight will be used to co-produce a vision for primary care that enables consistent access to high-quality healthcare for care home residents.


The project asked care home staff, residents and their families, GPs and community specialists to share their experiences and views on the relationship between care homes and primary care. In particular, it drew on recent experiences during the pandemic.

We used an appreciative inquiry approach. This means we collated positive stories and experiences, focusing on what went well and what contributed to success.

Research activities involved a short survey, interviews and group discussions. The learning from what went well was used to identify the key principles of working together and what needs to be in place to achieve sustainable change – which will ultimately improve access to healthcare for care home residents and staff. The project was completed at the end of 2022.

Funding and ethics

This study is funded by The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute (THIS Institute), University of Cambridge. It is led by University of Hertfordshire and THIS Institute, in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration East of England. It has been approved by University of Hertfordshire Ethics Committees with Delegated Authority (cHSK/SF/UH/04698) and by the Health Research Authority.

Sign up to receive the latest news, reports and articles from THIS Institute.