Healthy Ageing in Residential Places: The HARP project



What makes a care home a good place to live and work?

The HARP study aims to identify the conditions that are the most promising in promoting active healthy ageing for both staff and residents and to develop new definitions of active healthy ageing.

HARP is an international study of healthy ageing in long term residential care in the UK, Canada, Sweden and Norway. It is funded in Britain by the ESRC through the ERA Age (2) Programme and based at the University of Bristol. HARP is nested within a larger study: ‘Re-Imagining Long Term Residential Care: An International Study of Promising Practices’, based at York University, Toronto, Canada (

Comparative research will be carried out between 2013 and 2015 through rapid ethnographical methods in selected case study care homes in each participating country.

Sweden – Dr. Marta Szebehely, Stockholm University – funded by FAS

United Kingdom – Dr. Liz Lloyd, University of Bristol – funded by ESRC

Norway – Dr. Mia Vabø, Norwegian Social Research


In collaboration with the Bruyère Research Institute, the HARP project focuses on positive examples of healthy ageing in long-term residential facilities. Based on a broad view of health that includes mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects, the project seeks to identify healthy ageing strategies for long-term residential care that allow staff and residents to live better, and perhaps longer, more fulfilling lives.

Comparative, collaborative, case studies are central to the project. They will provide detailed information on physical, economic, environmental, social, and behavioural conditions that shape and define healthy ageing for residents and staff in specific care facilities. The main technique is the application of a new method in this field – rapid site-switching ethnography. It is designed to capture the rich detail necessary to identify strategies for active, healthy ageing by bringing local and foreign researchers together to study two facilities in each country.

This project complements a SSHRC-funded Major Collaborative Research Initiative on “Re-imagining Long-term Residential Care: An International Study of Promising Practices”.

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