My Home Life Northern Ireland (MHLNI) is part of a wider international initiative (My Home Life) and registered charity (No. 1187498) which promotes quality of life and delivers positive change in care homes.

Each partner organisation works independently, and research findings and resources are shared with the care home sector and with other partners and stakeholders through the MHL website.

The core of the MHL initiative is a leadership support programme. In Northern Ireland we provide the leadership programme with an additional quality Improvement strand and the programme is led by Ulster University in partnership with Age NI and the Independent Health Care Providers (IHCP).

MHL has worked with over 60 academic researchers from universities across the UK to develop the evidence base for quality of life in care homes.

The review of evidence explored ‘what residents want from care homes’ and ‘what practices work in care homes.’

The evidence was found to cluster around Eight Best Practice Themes (National Care Homes Research & Development Forum, 2007).

The eight themes emanating from this review along with the evidence base underpinning Relationship-Centred Care very much informs the content of the Leadership Support Programme.  The ways of working draw on Appreciative Inquiry and Caring Conversations

How it started

My Home Life began in 2006 as a small project to synthesise the literature on best practice in care homes.

Since then, it has grown into a social movement to promote quality of life for those who are living, dying, visiting and working in care homes for older people.

Over the past decade My Home Life has developed an international reputation for facilitating positive culture change and enabling care homes to both professionalise and articulate their expertise. It was launched in Wales in 2008, Scotland in 2012 and in Northern Ireland in 2013.

In Northern Ireland, the programme began in 2013 with a Knowledge Transfer grant from the Research and Development Office of the Public Health Agency.  It is delivered by a team of researchers in the School of Nursing and Paramedic Science at Ulster University, who have a strong track record of research with older people and care homes, and to date, the programme has generated research funding in excess of £2 million.

Core Work of My Home Life

The core work of My Home Life includes:

  • Research and quality improvement:

    Research and quality improvement, with a particular emphasis on collaborative action research, facilitated through the development and use of creative and inclusive methods

  • Developing educational and practice resources:

    Developing educational and practice resources, and creating the conditions for their translation and use

  • Leadership Support:

    Leadership support to enable care home leaders to empower staff and to foster relationship-centred cultures within their care homes

  • Community Engagement:

    Community engagement to strengthen relationships between care homes and their local communities

  • Engaging and influencing at a national level:

    Engaging and influencing at national level through stakeholder engagement and social action, highlighting the implications of systemic failure to properly value care in policy or in wider society and evidencing the need to afford staff the time, space, resources and recognition required if they are to flourish in increasingly complex environments.

About Us – The Future:

To date eleven cohorts have successfully completed the Leadership Support & Quality Improvement programme in NI. 2021/2022 seen the expansion of our Leadership Support and Quality Improvement Programme to five additional cohorts of care home participants with funding from the Department of Health Northern Ireland. In addition, the My Home Life Northern Ireland team has grown to include three new Facilitators and administrator supporting the delivery of the programme and wider research proposals. The new team bring a wide range of direct/indirect healthcare experience and knowledge to the programme.

The continued success of My Home Life Northern Ireland has been achieved as a result of partnership funding from Independent Health and Care Providers (IHCP), Age NI and the Department of Health Northern Ireland. Additionally, it has also been supported by Ulster bank through the provision of venues & refreshments. Further Funding is required for ongoing wider implementation across Northern Ireland.