Friday 8 December 2017

Engaging older people in clinical research- raising awareness across the University

Latest event; stimulating a cross-disciplinary approach to translational research in ageing and long-term conditions

The NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) improves lives through world-class research in ageing and long-term conditions. Our commitment to training the next generation of researchers means we offer innovative inter-disciplinary opportunities for students, researchers and healthcare professionals.

Engagement and participation of patients and the public is key to our partnership in delivering patient-focused translational research. Our most recent training session, entitled Clinical Research for Older People, was led by Dr Ellen Tullo, a clinical specialist in geriatric medicine with particular expertise in the development of strategies to improve medical education about ageing. In her role as Training Lead for the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, Ellen delivers these interactive workshops which explore the challenges and opportunities associated with involving older people in clinical research. As part of the session there is the opportunity to interact with volunteers from our BRC Research Ambassadors group, part of Voice North, who have previously participated in research projects.

Gavin Snelson, a Physiotherapist based in the Institute of Neuroscience at the Clinical Ageing Research Unit is currently writing his PhD proposal. He aims to conduct research which focuses on exercise and movement intervention in hospitalised older people with multi-morbidity and frailty, to promote faster recovery and reduce length of stay. After attending the event he shared his experience:

“My PhD will involve older inpatients on medical wards. This group often have delirium/dementia affecting capacity and I wanted to know a bit more about how other researchers had approached ethics and consent. I think the small group work helped to get to know people and discuss our projects more informally. It was also really helpful to be signposted to additional resources and to hear about Voice North – I have already been in touch to arrange my PPI.”

Interdisciplinary training for ageing researchers

These session are mainly directed at medical researchers, however this year it also attracted individuals from outside the Medical Faculty and gave researchers in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences the opportunity to consider whether there was a role for older people in their projects.

Lucy Carolan, a PhD student in the School of Arts and Cultures is in the early stages of a creative practice research project which, via the concept of lostness, will investigate the connections between photography and perception/memory disorders of the kinds experienced in dementia, with the intention of finding ways to visualise and create new models of thinking about the condition. Lucy shared her experience of the workshop:

“I thought it a good idea to find out how people in the medical fields approach working with older people, especially more vulnerable subjects such as those with dementia. I don’t know at this stage if my research will involve direct contact with older people, but I thought the event would provide an opener to considerations of ethics and angles of approach. It provided me with a solid starting point for thinking about the human and medical aspects of the research project I’ve undertaken and I came away from the whole session feeling I’d really learnt some valuable and useful things.”

Jac Mantle, a PhD student in the School of Education, Communication and Languages is conducting research which will involve recruiting participants for an ultrasound study of speech.

 “I would definitely recommend the workshop to anyone who is recruiting members of the public for their research, as a way of thinking through potential issues, ways of making participation in your study as accessible as possible and being clear about who is eligible to participate.”

The Clinical Research with Older People workshop is introducing trainees and early career researchers to future opportunities in translational research in ageing and long-term conditions. Participants in the workshop are introduced to several CPD modules in Clinical Research with Older people which are extremely successful in providing a route to a research career in ageing research. The CPD module CHS8007: Clinical Research with Older People provides further opportunity to learn more about incorporating older people in their research and is delivered entirely online.

This workshop will be running again on Wednesday 28th February and you can book your place now.