Katharine Orellana

Katharine Orellana

Dr Orellana has now successfully completed her research project and been awarded her PhD.  She has published a number of papers and briefings arising from her work on the importance of day centres for older people.

After graduating in Spanish, I worked for ten years at the headquarters of an international development charity specialising in promoting communication for social change. I then moved to a national voluntary organisation concerned with improving life for older people where I spent seven years collecting and sharing information about local services for older people. Finding older people’s services fascinating, while in this role, I studied part-time for a MSc in Gerontology at King’s College London. After completing it, I moved into a role supporting local member organisations to respond to social care and support service development opportunities. Over seven years in the latter role, which had a strong focus on preventive services and making personalisation work for older people, I produced a series of case studies of innovation and good practice in service delivery and reports on personalisation. This work, which involved summarising policy and evidence along with researching case study examples and local experiences, sparked an interest in moving into the world of research. Before starting my doctoral studies, I explored the possibilities while spending a year interning at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit (SCWRU) at King’s College London and volunteering at a therapeutic activity centre supporting people with moderate dementia.

My interest in day centres, the topic of my doctoral study and a largely ignored, yet important, part of social care for older people, began when I was collecting information about services. I noticed that day centres, a building-based service, differ in what they offer, their target clientele, admission criteria, size, building used and in the way they are funded. During a project about standards within day services, I discovered that day centre providers were often unaware of the differences between their own and other day centres, although there were shared concerns and challenges.

The research funded by Dunhill Medical Trust’s Research Training Fellowship aims to improve the understanding of day centres for older people. It sets out to paint, from multiple perspectives, a rich and contemporary picture of day centres which may be used to determine how such services may be optimised to improve the health and wellbeing of older people and maximise the impact of the health and social care system.

Read my report

Orellana, K., Manthorpe, J. & Tinker, A. (2017) ‘Evidence to inform the commissioning of day centres for older people’, Social Care Workforce Research Unit, Policy Institute at King’s; Institute of Gerontology, King’s College London.