When developing a research study there is lots of information on how to design a study; however, there is less guidance available on how to go about collecting the data and working with participants. This is something I reflected upon whilst developing the training for researchers working on the IDEAL study (Improving the experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life; www.IDEALproject.org.uk).
The ENRICH initiative has been running for several years, the overall aim has been to improve the support provided to researchers wishing to work with care homes, improve care homes access, influence and involvement in research and address issues with care home residents being underrepresented in research and in clinical trials.
I have had the honour of being involved in a number of studies involving those living, and working, in care homes over the past few years. This has meant seeing first-hand how challenging it can be for care homes to balance research activities alongside their, often extremely busy, role providing care for those living there. But also, how their commitment to ensuring that their residents are provided with the best possible care is woven through both these roles.
When a researcher leaves a care home after gathering the information they need, this may be the end of the research for the staff and residents, but it is just the beginning of the next stage of the process for the researcher – analysing and sharing their findings.
I first dipped my toe into the world of research almost 10 years ago when conducting a randomised control trial investigating infection control in care homes. We were specifically looking at MRSA infection rates in care homes, when MRSA was an extremely hot topic in the media.