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Feeling at Home

Man in a wheelchair in a bedroom

More than a third of adults with learning disabilities known to social services in England live in registered care homes or supported accommodation – termed ‘group homes’.

Research has shown that these are often designed and managed in a way that reinforces institutional living and undermines a resident’s ability to feel ‘at home’. Staff, rather than residents, may decide how the home looks and how it is used, affecting residents’ wellbeing and undermining their freedom to use the setting as their own.


This research seeks to understand the views and experiences of people learning with disabilities living in group homes. Specifically, we want to find out what would make their group home setting more homelike.

We will use a participatory photography method called Photovoice to make it easier for people with learning disabilities to let us know with images as well as words what makes them feel at home where they live and what gets in the way of this.


We will bring together residents in group homes with learning disabilities to take photographs of their homes and discuss them. We will also interview staff and family members of residents, to explore their views on what promotes or impedes ‘homeliness’ in group homes. We will present the photographs in a public exhibition and invite comments and reflections from invited audiences and members of the public. This phase of the project will take around 12 months.

In a later stage of the project, we will work with residents and other stakeholders to use the information from the Photovoice phase to create a checklist and toolkit that can be used by residents and others to check this aspect of group home living and make sure that residential providers address this important dimension of quality in group homes.

Project status: Ongoing

Principal Investigator


Funding Body: NIHR School for Social Care Research

Amount: £271, 111.78

Period: January 2021 - September 2023