New College, in Oxford, was where we hosted an event to celebrate the ways in which public volunteers have worked with CLAHRC Oxford over its first five years. And a lovely day was had by all.
Why did we host this event? As a way to show that CLAHRC Oxford really does value the contributions of its public volunteers have made, and to give them something in return for all their help with our research over the past five years.
The sun shone and people were able to enjoy the grounds of Oxford’s 3rd oldest college (founded in 1379!) as they met up with their fellows and caught up with friends on a self-guided tour.
This event was also a lovely opportunity for researchers and volunteers to meet and share some of the successes of the CLAHRC, but particularly to focus on the very special way in which PPI Contributors had been instrumental in shaping the CLAHRC’s research.
Whether people were gathered over a glass of punch in the beer cellar or having afternoon tea in the senior common room – between talks, it wasn’t all schmoozing – there was a great buzz of conversation and interest in meeting each other.
The day took the form of a series of talks in the attractive McGregor Matthews library overlooking the Quad, followed by time for questions. One talk from each of the CLAHRC’s six research themes, giving examples of the impact that public involvement/input has had on different projects.
“An excellent session – really interesting and very well organised. Well done”- Attendee feedback
The questions put to our nine speakers showed the keen interest the audience was taking.
The day was introduced by myself, and the Director of CLAHRC Oxford, Professor Richard Hobbs.
From our ‘Early intervention and redesign’ theme we had Dr Rupert McShane outlining how he had held a large workshop in London with many members of the public who had taken the drug ketamine, both recreationally and therapeutically/medically, and used this in his work to design an effective and acceptable new treatment service for people with ‘treatment resistant depression’.
Dr Cynthia Srikesavan from our ‘Behaviour change: exercise and rehabilitation’ theme described how patients with rheumatoid arthritis had helped her develop and test a new app to train people in how to do the SARAH hand exercises, proven to be so effective by her team’s research.
The theme Lead for ‘Patient experience and patient reported outcomes’, Professor Ray Fitzpatrick, attended the whole event and spoke about the important work they have done in establishing the principle of patient involvement in defining patient reported outcomes – something that ironically was not previously the norm!
Dr Katy Burke managed to fit a dash down the Headington Hill into her busy clinical role at the Warneford hospital to talk about her project within our ‘Better management of medical-psychiatric multimorbidity’ theme. Her ‘Talking about dying’ research project was prompted by patients, who raised the research question to begin with, and led Katy to research the support needed for clinicians to talk to patients about dying.
Dr Claire Schwartz, programme manager for our ‘Patient self-management of chronic disease’ theme, gave an overview of three different projects within this theme, all of which have used the PPI perspective differently.
“Many thanks for your thoughtful hospitality at yesterday’s event. I found it informative, interesting and enjoyable, within a beautiful setting.”- Attendee feedback
Last, but certainly not least, for our ‘Behaviour change: diet and obesity’ theme was Sarah Payne-Riches, who is studying for her doctorate. Sarah co-presented with Dr Brian Goldthorp, a PPI Contributor on the theme. They discussed the Saltswap project which aims to encourage people with high blood pressure to reduce their salt intake by changing their shopping habits. Brian was able to share how he and other PPI Contributors had helped Sarah to shape the project and re-design the app.
By chance more than design, this event came while the organisations that make up CLAHRC Oxford were seeking new funding from the NIHR to advance and develop its work for a further five years.
If successful, we plan to hold more of these sorts of events in the future, and make more of the opportunity to get people engaged in providing input into our research projects and plans for the future.
From my own perspective, as PPI co-ordinator, this was a great way to inform people, whilst at the same time thanking them. Some of the very positive feedback showed that people had learnt a great deal and felt reinvigorated in their commitment to public involvement in general and the CLAHRC, in whatever shape its future takes.
What to read next
NIHR CLAHRC Oxford not only recognises the importance of public involvement to research but also the importance of supporting our public contributors to maximise their confidence and ability to contribute to our work and that of others.
20 July 2018
‘Strengthening And Stretching for Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hands’, or ‘SARAH’ for short, is an evidence-based hand and arm exercise programme for people with rheumatoid arthritis. We already run a programme to train hand therapists, but can we help people with RA to follow SARAH on their own?