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The University of Southampton

HLTH6189 Complex Care in Older People

Module Overview

The module will introduce you to key ideas underpinning complexity theory in relation to older people's health and social care; that is, in complex systems, unpredictably and paradox are ever present. You will be able to test and explore these ideas in relation to real-life clinical case studies presented online, pertaining to older people from culturally diverse backgrounds with multiple health conditions. At the start of the module you will select a case study and complete a series of guided questions and activities (individual and group, online and face to face) related to that complex case involving an older person; the case will allow you to examine the evidence base, and evaluate the key principles of complexity science in relation to older peoples’ healthcare. It will deepen your understanding of theoretical ideas and technology-based approaches pertinent to complex care and older people, and provide opportunities for you to develop and apply a critical awareness of scholarship in the field of complex care and active ageing. In summary, the module provides a comprehensive overview of current evidence and approaches in relation to complex care in older adults primarily using web-based case studies. It provides opportunities to critically reflect on your attitudes, beliefs and values in respect of assessing and meeting the needs, whilst respecting the dignity and rights of older people from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Develop a critical understanding of the concept of complexity, its constitutive factors, and its relevance to older peoples’ care;
  • Develop a critical understanding of key concepts and approaches for supporting the care of older people with complex healthcare needs, including personhood, citizenship, relational and gendered care, ethics of care, risk-enablement and shared decision-making.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of global developments in the field of aging and complex care, including those related to the effective use of technologies and environmental adaptations.
  • Articulate understanding of the advanced relational and technical skills in assessment, clinical care and shared decision-making needed for older people with complex healthcare needs
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Systematically research, analyse, and present a complex case, drawing on a range of data and evidence.
  • Identify a complex problem, then develop and justify an innovative and feasible proposal for resolving it.


Key concepts, principles, and approaches to recognising older peoples’ care needs and rights; Fundamental ideas underpinning complexity theory in relation to health and social care; Complexity theory in relation to older peoples’ care services; Person-centred, relationship-centred and compassionate care in relation to older person’s care; Dementia, depression, delirium, and mental health care. Advanced practice in relation to the fundamentals of care e.g. nutrition; supported decision making, and promoting self-care; Policy, legal, and organisational context of supporting older people with multiple morbidities; The importance of using enabling, non-discriminatory and non-ageist language, and challenging cultural stereotypes; Evidence on the link between feeling in control and well-being; Forms of abuse; safeguarding; safe and legal practice; Technology-based approaches to supporting older people with complex care needs from culturally diverse backgrounds - e.g. telecare, robotics, assistive technologies, smart homes; Involving older people with complex needs and their families, from culturally diverse backgrounds, in action planning and service re-design and development; Recognising and measuring frailty in older people; Recognising and treating pain in older people who are unable to communicate; Frameworks for sharing responsibility and ethical decision making.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module uses a blend of approaches to teaching including (1) web based case-studies and (2) academic tutorials, small group-work, and guest lectures/talks, delivered in two, two-day study blocks, which will normally run from 9-12 and 1-5 (28 hours of face to face teaching in total).

Blended Learning250
Total study time250


Assessment Strategy

Abstract and presentation (30%) Students will be asked to present a case independently concerning an older person with complex care needs, in the context of wider organisational and social factors and relevant policy and theoretical concepts Case study analysis (70%) Students will be asked to provide a case study analysis to further demonstrate critical knowledge and understanding of the case. The analysis should be no more than 3000 words (+/- 10%), excluding references and appendices.


MethodPercentage contribution
Abstract and Presentation  (20 minutes) 30%
Case Study Analysis  (3000 words) 70%
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