Tag: Economic and Social Research Council

Reflections on #AfterWhitchurch

Further to my last post looking ahead to #AfterWhitchurch, here now are my reflections on the event as it happened as also recorded on the Cardiff University mental health blog. I’ve selected some photos, too.

The closure of Whitchurch Hospital to inpatients in spring 2016 provided the backdrop for #AfterWhitchurch, a collaborative Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)/Cardiff University Festival of Social Science event focusing on the changing system of mental health care hosted at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts on November 10th 2016.

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Whitchurch Hospital opened as the Cardiff City Mental Hospital in 1908, the image below being the first entry on the first page of the hospital’s visitors book.

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Members of the hospital’s Historical Society were on hand with objects, documents and photographs from their archive. Artist and director Elaine Paton presented and talked about her work with Moment(o)s of Leaving, a multimedia performance produced to mark the occasion of the hospital’s closure. Audiorecorded interviews, created for Momento(s) of Leaving by artist/curator and researcher Julia Thomas, recounted staff members’ reflections on leaving Whitchurch and their thoughts for the future.

Chaired by Norman Young from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, School of Healthcare Sciences and service user researchers discussed how mental health care has shifted from hospital to the community, and shared reflections from research into the organisation of services, the work and experiences of service users and staff and the provision and evaluation of novel psychological interventions.

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Ben Hannigan talked about using in-depth case methods to understand mental health services at different levels of organisation, and Nicola Evans discussed her research into the mental health of children and young people. Dean Whybrow drew on 18 years of experience in the Royal Navy to describe how mental health support and interventions is provided in the military. Alan Meudell shared his reflections on being a service user researcher, and Bethan Edwards spoke of her dual identity as an occupational therapy researcher investigating care for older people with dementia and as a service user researcher. Stimulating and informed questions from the floor challenged the panel to think about stigma, the impact of research on changing practice and services offering respite and asylum.

Programme for #AfterWhitchurch

Tomorrow evening at Chapter Arts I’ll be joining friends for #AfterWhitchurch, an Economic and Social Research Council/Cardiff University Festival of Social Science event on the changing system of mental health care. Here is our programme, for those interested:

And here is a link to Elaine Paton’s Moment(o)s of Leaving video, which Elaine herself will be introducing:

As I type this post we have a handful of (free) tickets which have just become available, returned by people no longer able to be there. Follow this link to book in: and look forward to seeing people there.

Playing our Part

A short post this morning to draw attention to Professor Tony Butterworth’s Playing our Part review, this being something which occupied me towards the start of last week. With the support of the Foundation of Nursing Studies Tony is conducting a review of mental health nursing, by mental health nurses. I made the trip to the (very plush) King’s Fund headquarters in London’s Cavendish Square on Monday, where FoNs is currently in residence, to join an educators’ group discussing responses to a series of questions Tony had set for us in advance. The questions were of a type always easier to ask than to answer (‘how do you prepare students to uniquely become mental health nurses?’, and ‘do you think that students should be exposed to some form of basic psychosocial education skills at undergraduate level?’ being two examples). We talked lots about the interpersonal aspects of nursing, and the enduring importance of relational work, but also about the roles that mental health nurses fulfil in managing the system and coordinating care. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Playing our Part blog over the coming weeks as Tony continues his tour through the UK, meeting groups of nurses to draw out their views and experiences. The final report, as I understand it, is due to appear towards the end of the year. 

Elsewhere I’ve been working with co-conspirators to fine-tune next week’s #AfterWhitchurch ESRC Festival of Social Science event at Chapter in Cardiff. I’ll have to post something uniquely about that once we’re done. 

Research impact

Yesterday’s Health and Care Research Wales conference, held at the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff (more about that later), was all about closing the gaps between research, policy and practice.

There were some excellent keynote speakers. Jenny Kitzinger spoke of her research involving families of people who are minimally conscious, sharing her experiences of working with policymakers to influence at a national level. Jenny argued that impact is helped when research (1) has strong foundations, (2) is collaborative, and (3) is communicated through diverse outputs. ‘Diverse outputs’ means doing a whole lot more than simply writing journal articles (particularly those which end up behind publisher paywalls). For a direct example of how Jenny’s work influences, follow this link for a Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology POSTnote which cites a number of her and her collaborators’ publications.

André Tomlin, aka The Mental Elf, drew on his work with the National Elf Service to make the case for getting evidence into practice. This means communicating research findings in ways which are both understandable and accessible to practitioners. This, of course, is exactly what the Mental Elf Service does, using blog posts and other social media to share key research messages.

Steve Jones is a biologist known to many for his efforts to improve the public understanding of science. In his afternoon address he gave a fascinating account of working with government and the BBC. I liked his upbeat take on the past and present strength of UK science, but also noted his examples of scientific advice being flatly ignored or misused.

The day’s final keynote speaker was Malcolm Mason, whose talk emphasised the time it can take to generate research findings which have the potential to change care and treatment. Malcolm is an oncologist, specialising in prostate cancer, and his message for researchers wanting to make a difference is that they must ask questions which are important and not only interesting.

Worth mentioning, too, are yesterday’s workshops. Three were on offer, from which delegates had the chance to participate in two. As I have some experience in public involvement in research I elected to join the ‘impact on practice’ and ‘impact on policy’ options.

I enjoyed the day, and along the way also appreciated the chance to catch up with colleagues. Overwhelmingly, though, I am left thinking that the work of getting research into policy, services and everyday practice is something which needs to be planned for, and resourced. I also think most researchers (myself included) have some learning to do on this front, and perhaps need to develop some new skills and to make some new friends. In the past I’ve come across the Economic and Social Research Council’s impact toolkit, and yesterday was alerted to the existence of a study titled, A systematic review of barriers to, and facilitators of, the use of evidence by policymakers. Worth a read, perhaps.

Anyway…

I’ve now been to the SWALEC stadium five or six times for meetings, conferences and the like. I’ve never been there, though, to watch sport: the stadium being the home of Glamorgan Cricket. Perhaps I should rectify this at some point, as the idea of watching a match which might last days, involve beer (for spectators, if not players) and then end in a draw rather appeals.

 

 

#AfterWhitchurch

On the evening of Thursday November 10th at Chapter in Cardiff, as part of Cardiff University‘s contribution to this year’s ESRC Festival of Social Science, I’ll be joining friends from the School of Healthcare Sciences, the Whitchurch Hospital Historical Society, the service user community, the National Centre for Mental Health and the world of community arts for an evening reflecting on the changing mental health system. The event is free to members of the public, and further details (and a link for ordering tickets) can be found on our #AfterWhitchurch page.

For a snippet, here’s what we’re planning:

Whitchurch Hospital opened as the Cardiff City Mental Hospital in 1908. The transfer of its last inpatients to new purpose-built facilities in April 2016 provides a backdrop for an event reflecting on the changing shape of mental health care. In conjunction with the Whitchurch Hospital Historical Society and the National Centre for Mental Health, we will invite our public audience to review care as it used to be and care as it is now. We will draw on current Cardiff University mental health services research and use a range of historical and artistic media to maximise participation and provide variety.

Spread the word!

RCN in Wales award, public engagement and research student symposium

Lots of interesting things to relate in this post. November 13th saw Nicola Evans and me join Hayley Reed, Ed Janes, fellow-researchers Rhiannon Evans, Nina Jacob, Rhys Bevan-Jones and (most importantly) members of the mightily impressive ALPHA group at an ESRC Festival of Social Science-funded public engagement event focusing on young people and mental health. Organised with the help of SciSCREEN, the evening was hosted at Cardiff University’s Hadyn Ellis Building and began with a viewing of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Post-film and post-food saw groups of young people, ALPHA members and researchers disappearing into interactive workshops. Nicola and I facilitated a discussion on supporting young people returning to school following a period of care in mental health hospital. This is a theme very much arising from our RiSC study, and in our session ideas and energy were in abundance. Interested readers wanting more on the work of ALPHA can see their video here:

November 17th was the School of Healthcare Sciences’ annual postgraduate research student symposium. This was, as usual, an excellent showcase for the PhDs and Professional Doctorates ongoing in the School. Follow this link for information on individual students and their projects.

I’ll write more about this in a separate post, but on Thursday November 19th, in Cardiff City Hall I was pleased to receive the Research in Nursing Award for 2015 at the Royal College of Nursing in Wales Nurse of the Year event. I appreciated very much the kind messages from esteemed friends and colleagues received via Twitter, text and email. I am particularly happy to have won this award as a mental health nurse, again being reminded of the need for investment in both mental health services and in research to find out what helps.