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Care home research of the West Midlands

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Care home research of the West Midlands

Sandra Prew

I have been working on ENRICH since November 2014 – the ENRICH Project was launched nationally in 2012 but the initiative was not taken up in the West Midlands until late 2014, when we had 1 care home signed up and little research activity. CRN West Midlands is the second largest Network with a population of 5.7 million (the size of Denmark), and houses over 800 care homes.

Sandra Prew

Monday 21st March 2016

We now have three part-time Care Home Research Facilitators helping to get care homes research ready and active.

Since starting in November 2014, we have recruited 78 more care homes in the region and has recruited more than 200 participants to care home research.

The CRN Team has been working hard to promote the ENRICH project to the care homes in our region, informing them of how they can get involved, what being part of a research ready Network will mean and the support the Network can offer. This has been done in a variety of ways – from approaching Managers of the homes directly, linking in with other agencies who have regular engagement with care homes, to holding care home events to raise awareness of the initiative.

Our role is all about communication, engagement and support. We work with organisations and individuals to help them become research aware and then to become research active. When a partner organisation that is new to research opens a study, we offer support throughout the research project from set up to study close. This is offered via one to one support or group training around a specific research study, and signposting teams to the variety of services and training available to them.

As ENRICH coordinator I also work with the specialties across the Network to try to ensure a coordinated approach to care home engagement and that care home residents and staff have the opportunity to take part in all research that is relevant to them. I am passionate about raising awareness of research and equality of access for all. I am working with groups who care for people who have been excluded from research in the past because of presumed ideas about what they will or won’t be able to do. I love challenging people to think about research and whether their opinions are preventing others from having the opportunity to take part.

The aim is that care homes build capability and capacity to recruit their residents and family members, and staff are provided with the opportunity to take part in research if they wish to. Local NHS Trusts have worked collaboratively with the CRN team to release research delivery staff to recruit participants within their local care homes, utilising their staff members’ knowledge and skills and supporting the delivery of care home research.

We have also been involved with a research priority-setting event and hosted a workshop for Care Home Managers to enable them to engage in this opportunity. We have an established ENRICH steering group forging collaborations with care home managers, researchers, patient/carer advisors, hospital staff, NIHR team members, including the facilitators and the Academic Health Sciences Network. This group helps to shape our work, identifying new strategies and ideas for growth and engagement, whilst being mindful of the residents this will affect. We are currently primarily looking at studies involving dementia but are open to studies from other areas, if there is interest from the care homes and clear benefit to residents.

We also have a group of carers of people with dementia who are keen and willing to work with Care Home Research Facilitators to engage residents, their families and care homes and champion NIHR portfolio research. The ENRICH Project is about expanding research into a new and research naive environment, laying the foundations for research readiness and developing a whole new research culture in care homes in the West Midlands. It also means that research studies that would usually focus on those accessing specialist services can now be offered to those residing in care homes, and who might not be in touch with these services at the current time. We are working with a community that is unfamiliar with research, the benefits, what it means and how to engage in it. It’s both challenging and rewarding. We are breaking down barriers that can mean lack of access to research studies and enabling access to relevant research. Helping to celebrate good practice and educate care homes in research that can affect not only residents, but staff morale and to develop new knowledge and skills along the way. We have identified the importance of equality of access to research for care home residents and staff where that can help shape and improve the quality of care, and the quality of lives of residents.

The Network has invested in and developed new part-time posts to help facilitate this initiative, enabling the care homes to speak to researchers and delivering a research advocate to all involved.

We have capped our care home recruitment at 85 to enable us to establish what meaningful engagement looks like with these care homes in the absence of any research being available for them to participate in.

We are planning a celebration event in March 2016.

Sandra Prew
Network Support & Palliative Care Research Nurse – NIHR Clinical Research Network: West Midlands
ENRICH Coordinator