This weeks OTalk Research is hosted by Suzanne Simpson @SimpsonResearch here is what she had to say.
During my time at my first NHS trust I developed an interest in the invisible injuries patient’s experience as a result of an acquired brain injury (ABI) thanks to some inspiring colleagues. As a band 6 I developed my knowledge and skills in cognitive assessment and intervention alongside neuropsychologists and experienced occupational therapists. I started to see the inequality in the care available to those with physical impairments compared to cognitive impairments, with the latter often missed by the multi-disciplinary team or not able to access appropriate rehabilitation (Benedictus et al, 2010; Turner-Stokes, 2003; Sinclair et al, 2014). My interest in ABI and cognitive impairments continued as I worked for other trusts eventually leading to me working at The Walton Centre.
One afternoon in 2015 my therapy manager asked whether any staff members would be interested in applying for a part time funded MRes. My thought: ‘I can’t; I’m not clever enough’ as I had flashbacks to my undergraduate days. With lots of encouragement and support from the team I applied, was interviewed and I was offered one of only two funded places. The bulk of the course focused on the completion of a research project requiring full NHS ethical approval. I chose to carry out a feasibility study exploring the use of a cognitive functional screening tool I’d developed. The outcome of the study was that the tool required development to establish its validity and reliability. However within The Walton Centre the tool is used by members of the MDT (Vascular Nurses, Trauma Therapy Coordinator) in collaboration with the occupational therapists on the ward to inform referral for further functional assessment. From a personal perspective I loved the experience of leading my own research and changing practice, I wanted more! The research bug had well and truly taken hold. I graduated from Edge Hill University with a Masters in Clinical and Health Research in 2018.
Fast forward to March 2020. I’m working in a unique and innovative new role implementing evidence based practice and influencing service developments with the aim to improve the psychological wellbeing of people living with motor neurone disease. Alongside this role I’m the trust’s Making Every Contact Count Lead, supporting staff to help our patients lead healthier lives. Both roles use a lot of the skills I developed during my MRes. I’m proud to say I currently hold an honorary research associate role with Liverpool University and I was awarded a National Institute for Health Research NHS Research & Development North West Bridging Scheme. I’m involved with the North West Coast Applied Research Collaboration and I’m contributing to their work around social prescribing an area I’ve developed a keen interest in. Alongside Salford University Occupational Therapy they are supporting me to build an application for a doctoral fellowship.
In 2019 the Royal College of Occupational Therapists published the RCOT Research and Development Strategy 2019–2024. In recognition of the changing landscape the strategy states that ‘it is crucial that we use evidence-based interventions, robustly evidence the impact and the cost-effectiveness of our services, and continue to expand the evidence base, particularly as the scope and nature of practice evolves. Engaging in and with research is therefore central to the role of every occupational therapist in the UK, wherever they work.’
There is considerable evidence of the challenges that occupational therapists face when trying to engage in research and these have been discussed in previous #OTalk Research chats. There is however less evidence of how to overcome such challenges. This #OTalk Research chat will explore some very practical approaches through my own individual journey with the hope of inspiring and generating creative solutions to support others. You never know you might catch the research bug too.
- What is inspiring/what inspired you to get involved in research?
- How did you take your ideas or clinical questions forward?
- How have you overcome the challenges in your own areas?
- What helped i.e. who/what/how/when?
- What have you learned that might help others?
- What would be your one top tip to any occupational therapist considering involvement in research?