This Resources Hub also provides information for those who have local relationships with day centres, or who might consider engaging with them in other ways. All of these are stakeholders. 

Day centres are often valued places for people with social care and support needs who want to remain living in their communities. Their providers would like them to be more central to health and social care systems and are keen to develop local relationships with professionals, other services, businesses and community groups. 

This hub aims to support knowledge exchange. Having a single resources hub for a variety of stakeholders can help to improve understanding and build trust between them.

Katherine Orellana

Katharine Orellana, research fellow, King's College London

My overall reflection is that this is the type of resource I wish I had when I first started commissioning day services 7 years ago. I can see this being like a ‘one stop shop’ resource that collates examples of what good looks like and valuable hints and tips that can be considered by professionals from different sectors, whether it’s policy makers, commissioners, or providers.

A commissioner who 'road-tested' the Day Centre Resources Hub

Who are these resources for?

These resources are primarily for people working in roles that have, or could have, connections with day centres for older people and older people with dementia. This includes day centres themselves and their external stakeholders.  

Day centres

Day centres are community building-based services. They provide care and/or health-related services and/or activities specifically for people who are disabled and/or need support services.  Day centres vary in many ways:

  • Services take place in different types of buildings with different facilities, programmes and staffing.
  • They cater for different numbers and types of people 
  • Services are provided by different types of organisations
  • People may attend them for a whole day or part of a day (at least four hours)

Day centres are potentially valuable places attended by people with low level to multiple and complex social care and support needs

  • They reduce isolation by offering companionship, and provide care, emotional and practical support to people who attend, support them to remain living at home in the community (including by reducing some of the risks associated with frailty)
  • Day centres often set desired outcomes or goals with people who use their services

Day centres' role goes beyond a source of companionship or respite. 

  • They support carers to continue to provide care at home
  • They can also play a safeguarding role and are a safe place that carers can trust to look after the person they care for
  • They provide wellbeing benefits for thier volunteers
  • Homecare workers may wish to know if their clients attend a day centre because it gives them another topic for conversation. 

Please also see the summary of the research evidence about day centres and their benefits.

The social care regulatory body, the Care Quality Commission does not monitor, inspector regulate day centres for older people. 

During the Covid pandemic, day centres for older people faced mandatory temporary closure for a period. While some have re-opened, some may not survive. 

Day centre stakeholders

Aside from people who use services and their carers, other day centre stakeholders are people working in social care, public health or health. Their roles might involve planning, taking decisions about funding, purchasing, monitoring, reviewing, referring or signposting to day centres. Other people will be working in community organisations considering undertaking shared activities with or work and/or partnership working with day centres, and those directly involved with them (working or volunteering in day centres).

This broad group includes, for example (potential) commissioners, social workers, occupational therapists, district and community nurses, social prescribing link workers, GP practice nurses, allied health care professionals working in the community (e.g. rehabilitation teams), service reviewers, local councillors, specialist and professional social care related organisations and bodies, local community and neighbourhood groups. Further stakeholders, who are slightly further back than these ‘frontline’ people, are people who research service provision, or who support people working in any of the above-mentioned roles. 

Lack of regulation and the varied structures of day centres means that they are often ‘invisible’ to planners, funders, and practitioners. Local authorities are responsible for shaping the market and, to an extent, commissioning what services are available for people to use, so it is crucial that day centre services are made prominent. 

People with a personal interest in day centres (for example carers and older people who attend them), who are also day centre stakeholders, although not the primary audience for these resources, were involved in its development.  

Introduction to this Resources Hub

The name ‘Resources Hub’ reflects the way we hope this resource will be used – as a compilation of potentially useful information which is also available as downloadable documents. The downloadable documents contain additional details, further examples and links to useful materials. The Hub is not intended  as a ‘how to’ guide to be worked through from beginning to end. We hope that people will dip in to find specific resources relevant and appropriate to their particular needs or circumstances. The website is intended as a 'taster' of content on the PDF documents. 

What does the hub include and how is it structured?

Our co-design process revealed that all information is useful because people, services and organisations are at different stages and there is scant material about day centres gathered in one place.

This Resources Hub is structured into seven sections:

Each of the seven sections is divided into further sub-sections and each is available as a downloadable document.Downloadable documents contain additional details, further examples and links to relevant useful materials.

A single document including all the Resources Hub contents is available to download below. Some templates are editable Word or Excel documents for local use/printing.

Details of publications and further notes are provided separately, in downloadable documents. For example, information about the research studies mentioned and where to find them.

Day centre sustainability matters: evidence and real examples show their importance to planners and funders.

No one service model is suitable for everybody, but experience and research demonstrate that some people wish to attend day centres. A study participant told us “There have to be buildings of some sort where people can go and be safe. It's what else goes on in those buildings that's important.” They knew of a county that had closed all its day centres and employed a consultant to train the voluntary sector to support people to find alternative things for them to do. While successful for some people, the local authority realised that there was a group for whom nothing else was suitable. A decision was made to open a large day centre for this group, for whom support at home would have cost more.

This hub aims to support knowledge exchange. Having a single resources hub for a variety of stakeholders can help to improve understanding and build trust between them.

Day centre providers are keen to learn from each other and commissioners are keen to find out about new ideas, what works well and how best to manage these initiatives.

Building on what already works rather than always starting afresh can be rewarding and challenging but finding information is time-consuming. Some stakeholders want to know what the research says about day centres. Others want to learn how best to find out how well commissioned services are working. Some commissioners have expressed a wish for real examples that bring to life the impact of a service. 

Why and how this Resources Hub was developed

The resources on this hub address the priority support needs identified by day centre stakeholders in various roles. They were developed after a survey found that day centres felt unsupported and under-prepared for current and future environments. The survey also found that evidence and information about day centres would be welcomed by day centre providers, professional decision-makers and community groups and that there is an appetite for joint working.

Resources were felt to be lacking, particularly about and for day centres for older people, including those living with dementia. Survey respondents were keen on a web-based centralised information resource to support these day centres and their stakeholders.

How were these resources developed?

These resources were developed in three stages: resource needs were identified, the resources developed and then tested and refined. This was a co-design study which means that a broad range of day centre stakeholders were involved throughout, with stakeholders and researchers being partners in the process. We aimed to empower, collaborate, involve and consult with our stakeholders.

  • Stage one: we spoke to ten people from day centres (nine managers, one volunteer) and nine external stakeholders, in a variety of roles, in four diverse south London boroughs. We asked them about any tools or questionnaires they had used or that they might like to use. We also asked what other resources and what other tools/questionnaires or resources might be valuable to them. We discussed priorities raised by our earlier stakeholder survey and whether it would be helpful to make available any resources of that type (e.g. supporting the workforce). Finally, we asked about suitable formats for resources and whether interviewees had examples of local practice. We categorised this information into topics.
  • Stage two: we worked with the Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) and identified, collated and developed resources that were prioritised and aimed to meet the needs expressed in stage one. Group members included day centre providers and other professional and lay stakeholders. Members decided which topic areas to prioritise and what resources to include and they were invited to submit case studies and examples. The SRG reviewed the content and structure of individual resources that had been collected and drafted, mainly by the lead researcher. This researcher-led input and feedback model was chosen in recognition of members’ time constraints. Members contributed to the design of this website and document presentation formats.
  • Stage three: Resources were read and tested in three day centres and by eight professional stakeholders in south London. Their feedback was used to further refine the resources.

Before its development started, we requested feedback on draft plans for this study from the ARC Social Care theme’s PPIE lead (and member of the ARC’s PPIE Strategy Oversight Group (SOG)) and deputy.

Ethical approval was awarded by King’s College London (ref: LRS/DP-21/22-27013).

Download a PDF of the complete Day Centre Resources Hub (all sections)

Day Centre Resources Hub

This is a PDF of the complete Day Centre Resources Hub in a single document
Download a complete file of the Day Centre Resources Hub
Download Day%20Centre%20Resources%20Hub%20%28complete%29%20May%202024%20FINAL.pdf

Download a PDF of About the Resources Hub (this section)

About the Day Centre Resources hub

This document explains the aims of the Resources Hub, who it is for, how it is structured, why and how it was developed and acknowledges those involved.
Download About the Day Centre Resources Hub
Download 1-About%20the%20Day%20Centre%20Resources%20Hub%20May%202024.pdf

How these resources were funded

This work was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) South London which brings together researchers, health and social care practitioners, and local people under different themes. It focuses on ‘applied’ research that is designed to solve practical problems faced by local people and their health and social care services.

This work falls within the Social Care theme which aims to support the sustainability of social care services. Developing this resources hub is part of its work focusing on filling gaps in knowledge around the value of day services and other social care services and strengthening them as community assets or anchor institutions within south London and beyond.

NIHR ARC South London covers the London Boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, Southwark, Sutton and Wandsworth.


This study is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration South London (NIHR ARC South London) at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.  Researchers are also part of the Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce is core funded by the (NIHR) Policy Research Programme (Ref. PR-PRU 217-21002). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Researchers involved in this study were Dr Katharine Orellana (lead), Dr Kritika Samsi and Professor Jill Manthorpe. We thank everyone who has contributed to this work, some of whom remain anonymous while others have chosen to be identified.

We thank the Health Improvement Network and ARC South London Implementation Science teams for their help in designing the study, and ARC South London social care theme’s PPIE lead and deputy for their feedback on initial plans. 

We are grateful to interviewees and Stakeholder Reference Group members for sharing their knowledge and examples, and to others who agreed to share examples with us. 

The Stakeholder Reference Group included day centre providers, professional stakeholders and lay stakeholders who, between them, have an enormous wealth of many different kinds of experience and expertise. Membership varied a bit over time, but the following have all contributed:

  • Andy Lorentson (Central Hill Day Services, London Borough of Lambeth)
  • Anne Bren (Staywell, Kingston)
  • Anne Donaghy (Merton and Morden Guild, London Borough of Merton) who, sadly, passed away during the project
  • Cat Forward (Occupational Therapist, Lambeth and Southwark NHS)
  • Christina Newton (lay stakeholder)
  • Janine Lane (Central London Community Healthcare Trust, Merton)
  • Jen Goddard (Age UK Merton, London Borough of Merton),
  • Nathalie Wilson (commissioner, London Borough of Kingston)
  • Nick Andrews (Wales School for Social Care Research, Swansea University)
  • Rashmi Kumar (lay stakeholder)
  • Rekha Elaswarapu (lay stakeholder, ARC Social Care theme’s PPIE lead and member of the ARC’s PPIE Strategy Oversight Group (SOG))
  • Anonymous commissioner, London borough.

We are grateful to the “road-testers” who set aside time to consider these resources and how they might (or might not) support them, and colleagues, in their roles and who gave us feedback to further improve them.

Day centre road-testers:

  • South Croydon Centre for the Retired, London Borough of Croydon
  • Saxon Day Centre (Age Concern Orpington & District), London Borough of Bromley
  • Raleigh House (Staywell), London Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames

Stakeholder road-testers:

  • Local authorities: Two senior social workers, an Assistant Locality Team Manager, a Senior Commissioning Manager (Older People, Physical and Sensory Disability) and an Interim Project Manager (commissioning team supporting older people and people with a physical disability) in the London Boroughs of Kingston-upon-Thames, Wandsworth and Richmond
  • Health: A Neighbourhood Clinical Team Manager and a GP in the London Boroughs of Bromley and Kingston-upon-Thames
  • A social care researcher.

We are grateful to the ARC South London communications team for their advice, for facilitating the web design and build process and for uploading and revising all the content. Effusion built the website and designed the document layouts

The home page photo is courtesy of the Centre for Ageing Better.

Get in touch

Please let us know whether this Resources Hub has been useful. Email:,  with the subject ‘Feedback on Day Centre Resources Hub’.

Please let us know if any of the links to external materials no longer work Email: with the subject being ‘Broken link on Day Centre Resources Hub'.

We run a Day Centre Research Forum that shares research and facilitates local and national collaboration between researchers and stakeholders working in the day services field. If you would like to be on the Forum mailing list to be kept up to date with details of forthcoming meetings and day centre related work please contact Katharine Orellana:

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