Tag: service user involvement

HCARE welcomes Alan Simpson

Alan's seminarOn November 6th 2017 the School of Healthcare Sciences welcomed Alan Simpson from City, University of London to give a talk titled, Full-steam ahead or treading carefully? Reflections on public and patient involvement in health services research.

In warm and engaging style Alan drew on a whole programme of mental health research (including the City 128 study, Safewards, COCAPP, COCAPP-A and ENRICH) to share his experiences of involving service users at every step. Alan began with an exploration of the reasons for involving patients and the public in research, and drew on his case studies to provide examples of different methods and approaches in action. He closed with lessons learned, emphasising the importance of time, resources, flexibility, training and support, and having funds to pay people for their time and expertise.

The event was livestreamed via the twitter account of the Cardiff University mental health nursing lecturing team. For those who missed Alan and want to catch up, the saved video can still be viewed here:


Nominal group technique

Time this morning for a quick post drawing attention to this new paper published in Research Involvement and Engagement reporting on our use of the nominal group technique in the now-completed RiSC study.

In this project we were interested in risk, broadly defined, for young people in inpatient mental health settings. We used a two-stage evidence synthesis, convening a stakeholder group midway through to guide us in our focus. This new article gives the detail on the process we used when the group met.

As it happens, the stakeholder meeting was a pivotal event in the life of this study, during which we were directed to find evidence on a whole range of risks which are very rarely considered in mental health services. Examples include the risks of losing contact with education, family and friends. The next step in this programme of research is a KESS2 PhD studentship which will bring to the surface all the things that child and adolescent mental health practitioners do to help young people in hospital to keep in touch. In the meantime, anyone wanting to know more about the RiSC study (should their appetite have been whetted following a read of this new article) might want to follow this link for our main findings paper and this link for our accessible summary.

Research ideas wanted

There are lots of reasons why researchers should collaborate with people with experience of using health and social care services. For an insight into public and patient involvement in research, from the perspectives of all involved, check out this repository of Healthtalk videos

For some years I have been a member of the National Centre for Mental Health Service User and Carer Research Partnership (SUCRP). Much as the Service User and Carer Group Advising on Research (SUGAR) based at City University London has been doing, SUCRP is now creating opportunities for mental health researchers to secure service users’ and carers’ views on their ideas and project proposals. Slots are available, right now, and information (including on how to book in) can be found in the flyer below:

This is an excellent initiative, which needs publicising and support. Spread the word. 


Research away day and MHNAUK meet-up

Lots of interesting things to report from a packed week. Monday took me to a meet-up with research-minded nurses from Cardiff and Vale UHB, the first of a series of events organised by Professor Lesley Lowes aimed at supporting research capacity and engagement amongst practitioners. Here’s the flyer:

Lesley's event

In her presentation, Bridie Evans made use of a segment from a NISCHR CRC video introducing the work of Involving People. This has been uploaded to the NISCHR CRC YouTube channel, where the part Bridie used begins at around the 1:53 mark:

Yesterday was the first Mental Health Nurse Academics UK meeting of the 2014-15 academic year. We convened in Manchester, with public involvement and engagement in mental health research and education the theme for the pre-business part of the day. Lauren Walker and Lindsey Cree led with an excellent presentation drawing on their service user and carer researcher experiences working on the Enhancing the Quality of User Involved Care Planning in Mental Health Services (EQUIP) study. Steven Pryjmachuk and I talked about our experiences of involving young people in research, drawing on Steven’s self-care project and our shared RiSC study. John Baker closed this part of the day with an impressive University of Manchester case study of how public and patient involvement in research and education can be embedded at institutional level.

Elsewhere in yesterday’s MHNAUK meeting there was a lively discussion around the promotion of physical health and well-being in people using mental health services, and a review of this year’s NPNR conference. Plans are also being laid for next year’s event, with opportunities about to be notified for people interested in becoming more involved via membership of the conference organising committee.

Reflections on a pre-conference week

Funding for Welsh students and Welsh universities is in tonight’s news, I see, and I’m beginning to wonder how long the Welsh Government’s current policy in this area will survive. More immediately, it’s been a varied enough week for me personally: and that’s without my two days at the NPNR conference in Warwick which begin with a frighteningly early start tomorrow morning. But at least I’ll have Gerwyn Jones and Mohammad Marie in the car for company, so all will be well.

Highlights so far include a meeting of (most of) the excellent RiSC team (which includes the newly-professored Steven Pryjmachuk), to make further progress on our evidence review of ‘risk’ for young people moving into, through and out of inpatient mental health services. This is a two-phase project, and we’re now in the second segment. This is involving searches for research and other materials across a number of databases, and putting out calls for evidence to local services and other organisations.

Data has continued to be generated in COCAPP, and this week a date has been set for a first planning meeting for an exciting new project I am involved in led by Michael Coffey. More to follow on this in the fullness of time, I expect. And yesterday took me to a second meeting of the Mental Health Research Network Cymru Service User and Carer Partnership Research Development Group, an event convened at Hafal‘s premises located in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans: National History Museum. A good place, St Fagans: well worth a visit.

Elsewhere there have been comments to make on students’ draft assignments, research ethics committee work, undergraduate teaching to prepare (on roles in health and social care teams) and writing plans to be laid. I’ve also been reading a PhD ahead of a viva scheduled in the next few weeks. So this short post will do for tonight: time to knock off, iron some shirts, pack a bag and have an early night.

Researching with service users and carers

Not much time for adding to the blog at the mo’, but enough to note that it was good to have spent this morning with the MHRNC Service User and Carer Partnership Research Development Group. This is an important initiative, and today’s meeting brought together user representatives, charity sector staff, colleagues from Involving People and academics. I’m something of a late arrival to the group, and lots of interesting work has already been done: including a research priority-setting exercise. More to follow in due course, I’m sure.

The Next Big Things

Riverside walk, Builth Wells

Here’s what will probably be a final Hay Festival-related post. Last Thursday the Nobel Laureate Professor Sir John Sulston chaired a discussion titled The Next Big Thing. This began with four researchers talking about what they do: Alison Rust, a volcanologist; Zita Martins, an astrobiologist; Nicole Grobert, a nanotechnologist; and Jenny Nelson, a physicist working on materials for solar cells.

All gave fascinating talks, and exemplified the art of conveying complex ideas to the interested but non-specialist listener. And who doesn’t want to hear about supervolcanoes (for the record, they’re bad news, and are definitely best avoided)? Or amino acids from space, the practical applications of graphene or comparing different ways of capturing energy from the sun?

This discussion has since got me thinking about the Next Big Things in nursing and midwifery research (and mental health nursing research in particular). Generally nurses do not do fundamental or basic science, and are not in the business of discovering how bits of the natural world work. So, no volcanoes or extraterrestrial chemicals for us. But practical applications of health-related technologies, and exploring and comparing different ways of doing health work? That’s more up our street, I think, even if graphene and solar power are unlikely to immediately feature.

River Wye, Builth Wells

To the applications-of-technology and exploring-and-comparing questions which might be asked within mental health nursing I would personally add some others related to the examination of health and health care experiences. We know that mental health nurses do ‘people work’ in a big way, spend much of their time coordinating (or ‘articulating’) complex trajectories of care and are often present during service users’ critical junctures. There are applications of skill and technology in this, and how nurses do their work and the effects this has are wide-open areas for study. COCAPP, as I’ve mentioned on this site before, is aiming to distil the components of care planning and care coordination associated with recovery-oriented and personalised mental health services, and is a great example of applied research in this broad field. I’d like to think that its findings will, in some way, be directly useful to practitioners and others in the fullness of time.

But these are just my thoughts, reflecting the things that happen to interest me personally. I wonder what mental health nursing’s current, collective, priorities for research would be if people were asked? What might members of the profession see as The Next Big Things for the period immediately ahead? There are plenty of past examples of this kind of exercise being undertaken within nursing. Over a decade ago the National Coordinating Centre for NHS Service Delivery and Organisation R&D commissioned a study to ‘identify priorities for research funding in the fields of nursing and midwifery’. More recently, the Academy of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Research (UK) conducted a Delphi study to establish areas for research commonly agreed by nurse leaders in health services and in academia. Within mental health nursing exclusively, I recall (because I’ve cited it in past publications) Ted White’s 1994 paper in the journal Mental Health Nursing titled, ‘Research priorities for community psychiatric nursing’. In its second position paper, appearing in 2004, Mental Health Nurse Academics UK set out its view of the principles to underpin future research studies and the areas it believed were in need of development.

Thinking of Graham Thornicroft’s recent editorial on the poor physical health of people using mental health services, referred to on this blog here, if asked to give their research priorities now perhaps some would make a case for researchers and practitioners to combine their efforts to seriously improve this situation. I know there are people working in this area already, but given the magnitude of the problem it seems to deserve some serious new investment. And how about extending research into the mental health nursing contribution to the vital care of older and vulnerable people, including those with dementia? Again, there are people, such as John Keady, doing this already, but possibly not in sufficient numbers. Or research in the area of quality improvement and safety? And what about workforce research, including studies into factors sustaining nurses’ resilience to provide care in conditions of adversity?

However they might be identified and emerge I suspect that any Next Big Thing candidates for nursing research will be the products of sustained collaborations. To return to last Thursday’s four discussants at Hay: all were explicit about interdisciplinarity, and the importance of crossing boundaries to do high quality research aimed at answering ‘big questions’. There are established academic mental health nurses doing this already (I’m thinking of people like Len Bowers, Karina Lovell, Patrick Callaghan and Alan Simpson), but more of us need to make friends with colleagues possessing specific substantive and methodological expertise relevant to our intended studies. Depending on the questions at hand this might mean finding collaborators with disciplinary backgrounds in various of the social and physical sciences and in the humanities, and if necessary with experience in the practical conduct of clinical trials, qualitative investigation and so on. Crucially, and arguably most importantly, it also means forging meaningful collaborations with people with experience of using services, whose priorities are the ones which really matter.

COCAPP: involving service users

Time this morning for a brief post drawing attention to two excellent opportunities for people with personal experience of using mental health services to contribute to COCAPP.

I’ve written about COCAPP on this site before, and we’re now looking for people to work with us in the recruitment of participants and with the generation of data.

Information about the positions can be found by clicking this link, then following the link onwards to ‘Managerial, Administration and Support’. The opportunities are listed as vacancy number 1007BR, ‘Service User Project Assistants’.