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The future of day centres for older people: in search of the evidence on their role, outcomes and commissioning


To improve understanding of day centres for older people by painting, from multiple perspectives, a rich picture of how day centres are perceived, what they offer, who uses them, how they contribute to the lives of those involved in them, and how they relate to health and care services.


2014 – 2017

Research team

Katharine Orellana (grant holders: Jill Manthorpe, SCWRU, and Anthea Tinker, Institute of Gerontology). An Advisory Group supports the study.


Dunhill Medical Trust Research Training Fellowship


This study consisted of a review of the literature published from 2005 to 2017 and data collection in four generalist day centres for older people. Taking a case study approach, for each day centre, the perspectives of four groups of people (total n=69) were gathered by interview and standardised measurement tools: older people attending them, their family carers, day centre managers, frontline staff and volunteers and local authority social care staff.


As well as illustrating the diversity of day centres, this study has provided evidence that the participating generalist day centres for older people played an important role for the individuals involved with them by delivering valued outcomes that are highly relevant to social care and health policy themes, and that there is potential to develop the systemic role of day centres.


As well as a Doctoral thesis, this study is leading to presentations, articles and reports for different audiences, including older people’s and carers’ organisations, policy-makers, practitioners, researchers and the day centre workforce interest groups.


Orellana, K., Manthorpe, J. & Tinker, A. (2020) 'Day centres for older people - attender characteristics, access routes and outcomes of regular attendance: findings of exploratory mixed methods case study research' BMC Geriatrics 20, 158. 

Orellana, K., Manthorpe, J., & Tinker, A. (2020) 'Day centres for older people: A systematically conducted scoping review of literature about their benefits, purposes and how they are perceived' Ageing and Society, 40(1), 73-104. 

Orellana, K. (2018) 'Day centres are important to older people – lack of money shouldn’t jeopardise this'Community Care, 4 January.


Orellana, K. (2018) Anyone who doesn't go there is missing out!’ How do day centres enrich the lives of older people? London: SCWRU Annual Conference: Resilience & Older Care, 1 March.


Orellana, K., Manthorpe, J. & Tinker, A. (2017) ‘Evidence to inform the commissioning of day centres for older people’, Social Care Workforce Research Unit, Policy Institute at King’s; Institute of Gerontology, King’s College London.


This study adds to the limited evidence about outcomes for carers of older attenders of generalist day centre attenders and about older people’s experiences and views on their social care services.

A better understanding of day centres and their users may contribute towards informing professionals’ decisions about funding, referring and signposting. Service providers and policy makers will be informed about the relationship between day services and older people’s wellbeing. Findings may assist in planning or re-designing day centres, in workforce decisions, and inform further research.

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