Nurse’s research to help older people live healthier lives

Although people are living longer, they are not necessarily living healthier, says nurse consultant for older people in Cornwall, Helen Lyndon. So to help elderly people live healthier lives, she has begun a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Plymouth.

The fellowship will see Helen – who works for the Cornwall Foundation NHS Trust – conduct a feasibility study aimed at developing, implementing and testing a nurse-led intervention to improve healthy living in older people with frailty.

Known as the HAPPI study – Holistic Assessment and care Planning in Partnership Intervention – the research will take place over four years, and is supervised by academics in the University’s Faculty of Health and Human Sciences. 

Helen recently completed a two-year secondment as the Clinical Lead for Frailty with NHS England, and has spent the majority of her career in community primary care or home settings, with a particular interest in supporting older people with long-term conditions. 

While undertaking her PhD, her fellowship enables her to continue her clinical work.

Helen said: 

“The intervention I’m developing will ask the question ‘what can we do better?’ to help older people live healthier lives. It focuses on supporting older people living with frailty in a primary care setting – meaning a community nurse could utilise the intervention straight away. It’s great that people are living longer but research shows that this does not necessarily mean they’re living a healthy life – and I’m keen to help nurses and health professionals to ensure that older people living with frailty have the best quality of life possible.”

The work will see Helen collect qualitative data to develop and refine the intervention, work with Peninsula Clinical Trials Unit (PenCTU) to carry out a randomised control trial to test the intervention’s feasibility, and gain feedback from patients and clinicians on its effectiveness. 

Helen added: 

“When choosing an institution for my PhD, I picked Plymouth as I had met Bridie (Kent – Head of School of Nursing and Midwifery) as head of the clinical school at Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, and knew how supportive she and her colleagues had been. The first weeks of my experience here have been brilliant, and I’m looking forward to the next four years.” 

Jos Latour, Professor in Clinical Nursing, said: 

“It’s fantastic that Helen has chosen to undertake her PhD at the University of Plymouth and that she was successful in obtaining the NIHR fellowship. The fellowship promotes clinical academic career development and we’re looking forward to seeing the progress of this intervention to help improve the health and wellbeing of older people.”

Helen’s PhD is being supervised by Professor Bridie Kent, Head of School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Plymouth; Jos Latour, Professor in Clinical Nursing at the University of Plymouth, Jon Marsden, Professor in Rehabilitation at the University of Plymouth; and John Young, Professor of Elderly Care Medicine at Leeds Institute of Health Sciences.

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