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Handover in care homes: staff perspectives

Final report

Published 21 February 2017

About this study

Handovers have been identified as a key element influencing outcomes in clinical settings; however, they have received little attention in care homes. The objective of this study was to investigate the content, purpose and effectiveness of the handover of information about older residents between two different sets of care home staff – those coming off duty and those coming on duty. 

This study focuses on the perspectives of staff. Phase two of this study examined residents' and their families’ perspectives.


2015 – 2016

Research team

Caroline Norrie, Valerie Lipman, Jill Manthorpe and Jo Moriarty (SCWRU) and Rekha Elaswarapu (Independent researcher)


Abbeyfield Research Foundation 


This study consisted of a literature review and data collection in five care homes. Drawing on ethnographic approaches, we undertook interviews (total n=30) with care home staff including managers, nurses and care assistants working both day and nights shifts. We also observed handovers (total n= 12).


Handovers varied between homes in terms of frequency, duration, location, content and who hands over to whom. Care assistants emphasised handovers as crucial preparation for going on duty and ensuring the safety of residents. Managers and nurses also reported their importance for team-building, staff management and staff education. Key elements of a successful handover reported included: being able to hear (lack of distractions); timeliness of staff; opportunity to ask questions; and respecting the confidentiality and dignity of residents. Electronic handovers using handheld devices were used in one care home and staff commented on the effectiveness of this approach.


A report containing the literature review was published in 2017. Journal articles reporting the findings of the project has been produced and findings have been presented at events in 2017, with one more planned. A self-audit tool was sent to participating care homes.


Norrie, C., Lipman, V., Moriarty, J., Elaswarapu, R. & Manthorpe, J (2017) ‘How do handovers happen? A study of handover-at-shift changeovers in care homes for older people’, London: Social Care Workforce Research Unit, Policy Institute at King's College London.


Norrie, C., Moriarty, J., Lipman, V., Elaswarapu, R. & Manthorpe, J. (awaiting decision) 'Re-framing handovers? An ethnographic study of handover practices at shift changeovers in five care homes for older people in  England', Ageing & Society

Moriarty, J., Norrie, C., Manthorpe, J., Lipman, V. & Elaswarapu, R. (2019, in press) 'What makes a good handover in a care home for older people?' Working with Older People.

Moriarty, J., Lipman, V., Norrie, C., Elaswarapu R. & Manthorpe J., (2019) 'Handovers in care homes for older people - their type, timing, and usefulness. Findings from a scoping review', Ageing & Society, 39(4): 851-871.


Manthorpe, J., Norrie, C., Elaswarapu, R., Lipman, V. & Moriarty, J. (2016) Care home handovers, Royal Society of Medicine, London. 16 May.

Norrie, C., Lipman, V., Moriarty, J., Elaswarapu R. & Manthorpe J. (2016) A study of handover at shift changeovers in care homes for older people, Care Home Research Forum, KCL, 5 October.

Moriarty, J., Norrie, C., Lipman, V., Elaswarapu R. and Manthorpe J., (2016) A study of handover at shift changeovers in care homes for older people, British Society of Gerontology, Swansea, 6 July.

Norrie, C., Lipman, V., Moriarty, J., Elaswarapu R. and Manthorpe J. (2017) Handovers in care home for people with dementia, Journal of Dementia Care Conference Doncaster, 9 November.

Online articles

Norrie, C., Lipman, and Manthorpe J., (2017) Researching in care homes – what was learnt from a study of handovers? Social Care Workforce, 12 July.


This study will add to the limited evidence base for practice in care homes on this subject and enable care homes to consider the subject of handover in light of the evidence.

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