Complementary & Parallel Research
Costs, Quality and Outcomes of Community Equipment Services .

Lead researcher:
Professor Ann Netten, Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU), University of Kent
Start Date: November 2006

Background Community equipment services have developed as an important element in keeping older and younger disabled adults independent within their own homes. The Department of Health (2001) identified the role of community equipment as enabling adults who require assistance to perform essential activities of daily living, maintaining their health and independence and to live as full a life as possible. A significant investment was made in attempting to integrate and prioritise community equipment services by modernising and expanding services, setting targets to increase the number of people benefiting from these services. The aim was to improve both the quality and range of equipment available, from simple devices like grab rails to extended use of the more modern telecare systems (Department of Health, 2001).

While a number of policy initiatives highlighted some progression in community equipment service, there is still a need to improve assessments, delivery times and access to equipment. There is a dearth of research on investigating the quality, outcomes and cost of community equipment services, the relationship between them and how to measure them. The aim of this project is to develop methods for assessing costs, quality and outcomes, to better understand the factors that constitute a quality, cost-effective service, in order to assess service performance.

Aims The principal objectives of this research are to:

  • To identify methods of measuring equipment service outputs, quality and outcomes for younger and older disabled adults.
  • To identify the use of equipment and adaptations over time.
  • To provide an understanding of the costs of community equipment services and the relationship between cost quality and outcomes.
  • To investigate factors underlying variations in efficiency of community equipment services.

Method There are four planned stages to the work. The overarching aim of the project will be to explore the outcome, quality and efficiency of community equipment services designed to help both older and younger disabled people to live independently at home. The objective in the first stage will be to establish the key aspects of quality and outcomes and other contextual and efficiency related factors associated with cost and quality variation. This will include a systematic review of the literature, consultations and interviews with service users, providers, commissions and experts, including those involved in the supporting and monitoring of equipment services.

Following on from the findings of this first stage, the objective of the second stage will be to develop indicators of outputs, quality and outcomes and to validate the proposed approach with service users and other stakeholders. The final stage will use the measures developed in the second stage, in a survey of providers to establish costs, service user characteristics, context, quality and outcome. The data from the survey will be used to examine factors associated with variations in quality, outcome and efficiency.

Outputs and Dissemination Research summaries will be produced in an accessible format and made available on our website. All participating service users, providers, commissioners and other experts will receive a short feedback report summarising key findings should they so wish. Full research reports will be made available on our website (see below). Articles for peer review journals and presentations at conferences will be based on these reports.

The results of the work will feed into the PSSRU’s current Department of Health funded programme on cost, quality and outcomes. In particular the results will feed into the approach being developed to measure outputs, efficiency and productivity of social services for National Accounts and other purposes.

Research Team

Ann Netten — telephone 01227823644; email [email protected]

Sima Sandhu — telephone 01227827194; email [email protected]

Karen Jones — telephone 01227827953; email [email protected]

Lesley Cox — telephone 01227823963; email [email protected]

For further information about the work of PSSRU visit or go to the link on our Links page.


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