Project overview and aims

Welcome to the Carers’ Hidden Harm Project (CHHP): a research study investigating the needs and experiences of family carers affected by violent, harmful or abusive behaviour by the older person for whom they care.  There is very limited research or support for carers and professionals affected by and working with this problem.

The aims of CHHP are to raise awareness about the topic and to develop evidence-based guidance for health and social care professionals to support affected families. The study is carried out by a small team working with the School of Nursing at the University of Birmingham.  It is funded by the College of Medical and Dental Sciences.

What is (and is not) harmful behaviour

We think that harmful and abusive behaviour looks and feels different and can vary from family-to-family.  Harmful behaviour could include verbal, physical, emotional or psychological action (or non-action) that has a negative impact on the carer.  It could include one-off events as well as behaviour that happens regularly or that changes over time.

We recognise that there are many circumstances which may give rise to people with serious illness and disability acting in ways that are challenging, unsafe or distressing.  This could include behaviour that feels controlling or extreme.  In many cases, the question of whether this behaviour was intentional or ‘done on purpose’ may not be appropriate or helpful. We are not investigating the cause of this behaviour or seeking to hold anyone responsible or to account.  Our focus is on investigating what harmful behaviour looks like, feels like and how it impacts on carers.

Taking part: interviews and advisory group roles

We welcome people with current or previous caring experience taking part in the project as well as professionals working with affected families (and, of course, people who fall into both groups).  We are carrying out one-to-one interviews with carers and professionals to discuss their views and experiences on this issue.

If an interview takes place, it will be arranged at a time and place that is convenient for you.  The research team is also working with an advisory group of carers and professionals who have an interest in the issue and/ or research for carers. If you are interested, please do contact us to find out more about the project and to discuss how you would like to be involved.

The research team

Louise is the PhD researcher on the project and is a qualified social worker with practice experience.  Dr Caroline Bradbury Jones and Dr Alistair Hewison lead the project.  They are both experienced academics with significant expertise and a track-record of carrying out research on sensitive topics.  They are also both qualified nurses.

Further information

There is more information about CHHP, including blogs and advice and information, on the project’s website at  Please contact Louise to speak with a member of the team directly to find out more about the project or if are you interested in taking part.  Louise’s email is [email protected] and her phone number is 07861 657717.