We had our first knowledge exchange event on Monday, October 22nd, and by all accounts it was a great success! The event focused on two key themes: the experience of doing research as a practitioner and the eight research projects which are underway.
The first set of presentations centered on the research process. The practitioners grounded their perspectives in a variety of images, each of which gives some insight into the opportunities and challenges one faces when undertaking a new piece of research. In addition to the ripple image here, we were shown pictures of an iceberg, a nebula, a mountain climber and the Tardis from Doctor Who! Each of these suggests the depth and complexity of the research process.
We also had a discussion about the role of research in organisations. We were particularly interested in how and why research might be used when planning and delivering health and social care to older people. The key themes from this discussion were (1) improving services for older people (2) using resources better and (3) fostering change and development.
After a short break, we joined the practitioners again for a second set of presentations. This time, the focus was on their rationale for doing research. We learned about the motivation for doing a piece of research, the opportunities which being a practitioner has brought to the research process and their aspirations for creating improvement in the delivery of health and social care for older people.
A summary of the different practitioner research programmes can be downloaded here. Further detail on each of the practitioners-researchers can be found on our blog here. And more information on our knowledge exchange plans can be found here.
At each training event, we will try to capture some of the immediate impressions of the training as well as practitioners’ thoughts on their research practice more broadly. So far, this conversation has occurred through an informal round-robin where practitioners are given the opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities – highs and lows – of the research.
Here are a selection of the comments from the first training event:
Our round-robin highlighted some of the anxieties about beginning a new research project. Concerns were raised about the size of the project and the time and effort required to do it – and do it well. There was also some discussion about “just wanting to get started” even if it was “daunting”. And some questions about research access and ethical clearance to do research, i.e. “how to get to the first base”.
When discussion focused on specific research projects, there tended to be an interest in “finding the best tool for practice” or “the best way of supporting” older people and carers. Some of us wondered whether “we would get the answers” and others asked “what if they are answers people don’t want to hear”.
Overall, there was a sense that we’re “not alone” – that PROP is an open and honest space where we feel “we’re all in the same boat”. There was also some discussion about the importance of looking forward to the “end products” so that we can think about where we want to be when we finish and what we want to achieve.
IRISS has produced a list of useful resources for searching and accessing existing research which may be useful to the PROP practitioners. The IRISS Learning Exchange is a very useful place to search for information on key topics in health and social care.
There are also a number of different examples of project outputs and different forms of dissemination. A quick browse through this might help practitioner-researchers to think about how learning from research can be exchanged. When the projects are complete, we may want to think about adding our own section to the Learning Exchange.
As part of our first researching training event ‘resources for research’, the PROP project team produced an introductory handbook about the PROP project and key elements of the research planning process. This includes a self-audit for ethics clearance and guidance on creating a research proposal. There is a also a flowchart which outlines the key stages of the research process: Plan, Do, Analyse and Exchange.
This material is partially based on resources that were produced for previous practitioner-research programmes, in particular the Engaging with Involuntary Service Users in Social Work project which was carried out by The University of Edinburgh in 2010.
A copy of this handbook can be found here: PROP Introduction to Research Handbook
The PROP project continues to grow. We have now recruited practitioners from seven different organisations with an interest in care for older people. They include: Alzheimer Scotland, Barchester Healthcare, NHS Lothian, West Lothian Council, Midlothian Council, VOCAL, Glasgow City Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Our first research training session is next week. It’s designed to provide an overview of the research programme and some introductory discussion of designing and doing research. More than that, it should be a day of networking amongst practitioner-researchers, mentors and the project team. We’ll be working quite closely together for the next 10 months or so – this should give us a change to get to know one another.
Details of the first event are available here.
Looking forward to meeting everyone next week!