A step forward: A blog by Anne Killett and the RReACH Team
Our project, “Residents Research-Active in Care Homes” (RReACH), has explored the involvement of older care-home residents as collaborators and advisors in research. We examined past research projects and then interviewed residents and staff in care homes. The results suggested strongly to us that some care-home residents are interested in working together with researchers. Although there are some barriers to their involvement, such as fluctuating health, these can be overcome by flexible partnerships between researchers and care-home residents and staff.
How can we ensure more residents have opportunities to become involved? Last week we invited care-home residents and staff, relatives, researchers and other interested representatives and organisations to a workshop to discuss how to develop networks and links in our region. Over thirty people attended the workshop at the University of East Anglia. The stimulating mix of views and experiences created lively challenging and inspiring discussions. We tried out working together on examples of research. New relationships continued to blossom over lunch and in the afternoon we worked on ways of putting groups in touch with each other and maintaining links. Ideas springing from the workshop included: Advisory care homes are a useful way forward, as they would help researchers and care homes to build relationships of trust; adding research information to existing newsletters for older people or workshops on research can help to inform and involve people; a ‘ring a researcher’ option was favoured by those who liked care homes to take more initiative and ownership over ideas for change.
At the workshop participants also had the chance to listen to older people’s experiences of being involved in research. Sharing ideas and learning from each other left us all very optimistic that collaborations and exchanges between care homes, researchers and the wider public are worthwhile and deserve to be pursued and maintained.
For more information contact: Dr Anne Killett, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel.: 01603-593319