Our work that has seen 100 care homes be recruited to ENRICH in the West Midlands
After starting on the ENRICH project at the end of 2014, the work here in the West Midlands has grown. ENRICH was new to the West Midlands and the Clinical Research Network West Midlands needed to invest time and people to develop the work and contact with the care homes in our area. We set up an ENRICH Steering Group comprising of a Research & Delivery Manager from a local NHS Trust, a carer representative, a care home manager, a university representative, the Clinical Research Specialty Lead, Research Delivery Managers and myself, the ENRICH Lead. Initially, I was employed on the project for half a day a week but this has expanded to 1-1 1/2 days due to our local success. We recruited three care home research facilitators working two days a week to support the delivery of the work and recruitment of care homes, giving us complete geographical coverage of our area. Their primary role was to establish a relationship with the care homes in their area to see if they were happy to meet to discuss what research is, why it is important and how ENRICH can support this.
We set about promoting the work of ENRICH at events, locally within our own network and with local NHS Trusts that we would be working with. We have been sharing the message with anyone who would listen and also very much listening to the Steering Group about new ways of working and identifying other groups we can work with like the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). Reviewing existing studies on our portfolio, we were able in some areas to work with the local NHS Trust who targeted homes in the immediate area of their Trusts who might be interested in taking part in research. This worked really well and 6 sites were recruited for the MARQUE 2 study looking at increasing knowledge of dementia, agitation and personhood.
The facilitators were able to talk to homes about how research could benefit not only the residents but the staff and the organisation. They highlighted the added benefits to research such as evidence-based practice and how taking part in research can increase staff retention and support education and training. The facilitators have attended groups within the homes and organised events to support training of care home staff, reinforcing the importance of research and its benefits. Periodically we stop recruiting new homes and have a period of consolidation, allowing for relationship building, which in turn, hopefully, reduces loss of homes to the project when care home managers leave.
Building relationships has meant that, when we have identified a potential study, the facilitators can already know which homes might be suitable and help connect the research team with the care home manager, facilitating discussions and how to move forward. This has worked effectively, for example, in the central area, a study team were finding it hard to access care homes, but one of our facilitators supported the connection with care home managers and the study team to successful recruitment of homes to the study.
We have also had interest from PhD students wanting to conduct research in care homes, with one PhD study in particular (that is looking at laughter in the workplace) having really helped to support the benefits of care homes taking part in research.
Furthermore, we are currently recording care home managers, researchers and other staff sharing what taking part in research in care homes has meant to them and their stories.
The facilitators are truly amazing at working across all groups and work has been going on with local CCGs, other care providers and groups that regularly visit care homes, enabling us to look at partnership working. The facilitators have been looking at who we know who have regular contact with care homes and how we can support them to be research ambassadors to help the work of research within care homes to continue to grow.
Our biggest difficulty, which I am sure is the same for many areas, is the lack of studies that can go out to care homes! We have been meeting with staff in the Clinical Research Network locally to try and facilitate growth in this area. The Research Delivery Managers and Clinical Research Specialty Leads have been talking about ENRICH to local NHS Trusts so they know what it is and how we can help them. They have also been working with universities and other researchers raising awareness of the opportunity for ENRICH to support research in care homes. As Lead I have also met with the managers of the portfolio of studies the NIHR fund as well as colleagues in study support services, with the aim of raising the profile of ENRICH, encouraging them to ask new study teams to consider care homes as a suitable recruitment area, and helping others to look out for potential studies we could take out to care homes.
We have also identified ways that homes can be involved that may shape and/or lead to future research such as questionnaires and online surveys that residents, their families or care home staff can complete to help maintain engagement.
We also held an ENRICH event last year and invited our homes to attend to hear about research examples and study outcomes, take the opportunity to network and share best practice. In 2017, we are hoping to be part of a joint event with our NIHR Age and Ageing colleagues to support further opportunities for events and celebrating our work.
Our success has meant that we recently celebrated 100 care homes joining the ENRICH network in the West Midlands. This has been down to the commitment to build relationships, identify opportunities for research in care homes and a desire to make a difference to residents within care homes. We are passionate about equality of access to all for research, regardless of medical condition, mental capacity or place of abode.
If you would like further information about the work of ENRICH in the West Midlands, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
author: Sandra Prew, ENRICH Lead, West Midlands