Dynamic lighting intervention to reduce falls and improve health in care home residents
The aim of this project is to examine the benefits of a dynamic lighting intervention on the rate of falls and other health and safety outcomes in people living in residential care homes in a large-scale nationwide study.
Start date1 October 2023
Funding sourceUniversity of Surrey Matched Funding Doctoral College Studentship Award
- UKRI standard stipend (currently £17,668 per annum)
- 100% of UK/home rate tuition fees (currently £4,596 per annum)
- Minimum of £3,000 per annum research training and support grant to support research costs
- Support to attend at least 1 international and 3 national research conferences over the course of the studentship.
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in adults aged 65 or older. The additional economic impact of falls is immense. There are over 400,000 people living in residential aged care homes in the UK, including 285,000 with dementia or memory problems, and these numbers will rise substantially in the coming decades. Current interventions to prevent falls are complex and require significant resources.
In a recent pilot study, we showed that a dynamic lighting intervention was able to reduce the rate of falls in two residential care homes (1). In addition to helping us see, light has multiple ‘non-visual’ effects including improving alertness and cognitive function, reducing depression and improving sleep, and maintaining synchronisation of the circadian (24-hour) clock (2). These responses are mediated primarily by the photopigment melanopsin, located in the ganglion cell layer of the eye, which is most sensitive to short-wavelength (blue) light (~480 nm) (3). Increasing daytime light levels or exposure to blue-enriched light in care homes has been shown to cause a slowing of cognitive decline, improved sleep, and reduce depression, agitation and anxiety (4-8).
The aim of this project is to replicate our findings in a much larger-scale study. We have partnered with a large UK care home company and a UK lighting company to test the impact of a dynamic lighting intervention on fall rates and fall severity as well as medication use, distress incidents, agitation and sleep disruption, in care home residents. The PhD project will explore different approaches to implementing better lighting and assessment of falls and other outcomes. We aim to validate an effective, passive, low-cost, low-burden fall-reduction intervention and establish a new standard of care for residential care home lighting.
1. PMID:35850166; 2. PMID:36115370; 3. PMID:29479335 4. PMID:18544724; 5. PMID:25246779; 6. PMID:28595523; 7. PMID:31855161; 8. PMID:28595522.
How to apply
Applications should be submitted via the Biosciences and Medicine PhD programme page. In place of a research proposal you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for and the name of the relevant supervisor.
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