Research Design Service South East

Case Study 2 – Working Collaboratively to Support Research

Case Study 2 – Working Collaboratively to Support Research

RDS SE event

As well as supporting individuals and research teams through our free advice service, a vital part of RDS SE’s work lies in building strong partnerships with stakeholders to support, promote and develop high quality research in our region. Together we can raise awareness of available support, the benefits of research and how important it is for us all. Promoting RDS support for health and social care researchers, whether considering NIHR research funding or career development, forms a large part of this. 

i) Research for all: working with an Acute NHS Trust to support researchers developing primary research

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare (SASH) are good recruiters to their hosted portfolio research studies and keen to develop more primary research. The RDS Surrey team had enjoyed a good relationship with  the SASH Research and Development team but close collaborative working developed it further. In June 2018 a lunchtime ‘Introduction to NIHR’ session for clinicians and R&D team members, set up in partnership with NIHR CRN KSS, was a successful event which raised awareness of research support and opportunities available to staff in the Trust. Other positive outcomes from working together included:

  • detailed discussions about the SASH research environment and future plans for more joint RDS/R&D working 
  • regular informal ‘Research Café’ drop-ins organised with SASH library and R&D. Clinicians can discuss research ideas or research careers with an RDS Adviser. They can get advice on how to develop a clinical research career and receive signposting to groups involved in Trust-hosted clinical trials
  • more effective ongoing two-way communications that work well for all involved.’

ii) Supporting a research journey: multidisciplinary research collaboration to co-produce and evaluate a training intervention for mental health workers 

RDSE SE supported a partnership between Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (Mental Health), Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) and the University of Kent.  The team includes a psychiatrist, psychologists, service manager, public engagement expert, lay co-applicant and health economist.

They sought RDS support in 2016 to identify potential NIHR funding for an idea to bridge the gap in provision of physical health; co-producing, delivering and evaluating training to improve mental health workforce competencies in performing NHS Health Checks. 

RDS SE provided reassurance, guidance and strategic information at each step including:

  • advice on a successful NIHR Greenshoots application which paid for time to develop a full application to NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB). 
  • RDS adviser support in shaping research aims and methodology, contributing to regular teleconferences and advising on a project Gantt chart and team task allocation
  • RDS SE Pre-submission Panel (PSP) peer reviewed and fed back on draft RfPB submission
  • RDS SE Public Involvement Fund (PIF) covered the costs of setting up two stakeholder workshops 
  • securing a place at 2018 RDS National Writing Retreat allowed time to refine the proposal, and for clinicians on the team to fully engage

Although the RfPB application in 2019 was unsuccessful, this team continues to meet regularly and thrive. It is considering other funding sources such as NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research.

Lee Tomlinson,  KCHFT Lead Nurse (Research) and Research and Development Manager said: ‘This work has been made possible with support throughout the project from the RDS, from which we also received additional Patient and Public Involvement funding and a place on their Writing Retreat. The RDS support equipped us with advice throughout, time to collaborate and write and valuable reimbursement support to facilitate our work with patients and the public. Collaborating and working together has been key’.

‘Initial Greenshoots funding got us off the starting block and encouraged clear focus. Submitting was a commitment that we were all behind the project. RDS support made project progression real’

Both Trust R&D managers are passionate about involving new staff in research. The clinical team members had minimal research development experience and this opportunity enabled an NHS service in each Trust to experience the collaborative effort needed. 

‘The RDS SE PIF funding enabled a great lunch session with service users, patients and carers, and showed team members how research development needs patients at the forefront. We built on PPI with direct support from the RDS SE PPI lead to the ‘expert by experience’ who joined as co-investigator. The Grant Writing Retreat was also invaluable.

‘The support along the way opened conversations, focused energies and gave us direction along the collaborative path to a final submission we were proud of.’ 

‘We have been working hard to develop a research active culture across the organisation, collaborating closely with colleagues at the Universities, the RDS SE and CRN KSS. It is great to have research recognised by the CQC as contributing toward our assessment as an outstanding NHS Trust’. 

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