ARC West Midlands Director, Prof Richard Lilford, has produced a series of 5 blog articles, which reflect on over 13 years of experience. These articles include an overview; the role of ARCs in research and in implementation; how ARCs can deliver on their manifold objectives; the role of ARCs in service evaluation; and feedback for research commissioners.
A recent evaluation looked at the use of pulse oximetry (which uses a portable device to measure blood oxygen saturation level) in care homes during COVID-19. An infographic has been produced by the research team, showcasing the findings of the evaluation, and can be viewed at: arc-wm.nihr.ac.uk/news-events/latest-news/brace-pulse-oximetry.pdfLink opens in a new window.
Statistical Process Control (SPC) charts are generic tools for Safety and Quality improvement. In Health Care they are the basis for improvement methods such as Plan-Do-Study-Act Cycles. In contrast to simple line charts, SPCs distinguish signal from noise. They therefore enable decision makers to identify where action is needed, and a recent trial in France shows that they improve safety for patients. Yet we had anecdotal evidence that SPC charts were not widely used in NHS organisations. Working with our local Academic Health Research Network (AHSN) we conducted a project to determine prevailing use of SPC methodology and, if necessary, improve uptake.
Strengths-Based Practice in Adult Social Care During COVID-19: Insights From Practice Reviews in the West Midlands
Sharanya Mahesh, Research Fellow University of Birmingham
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on adult social care services. With the enforced closure of services, such as day centres in the community, and the emergence of new priorities due to the pandemic, local authorities have been required to introduce and adapt to new ways of working so that they continued to support people meaningfully.
Working with the West Midlands Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (WM ADASS), the Social Care theme of ARC WM have produced a report examining the impact of the pandemic on strengths-based practice. Document analysis on nine practice reviews undertaken between October 2020 and September 2021 form the basis of the report. Since their introduction, practice reviews have become an integral part of the peer challenge programmes led by the WM ADASS. Analysis of the reviews highlighted some positive and negative impacts on strengths-based working, and also brought to light the impact of the pandemic on staff who were at the forefront of demonstrating strengths-based practice.
Researchers from ARC West Midlands, in collaboration with ARC East Midlands, have recently published a paper on examining organisational responses to performance-based financial incentive systems, using NHS staff influenza vaccination rates (2012/13-2019/20) as a case study.
People with learning disabilities (LD) have higher physical and mental health needs but these needs can often go unmet resulting in poorer health than those without an LD. In addition, people with rare genetic syndromes associated with LD (e.g. fragile X syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome) are at even higher risk of some health conditions. For example, clinical levels of anxiety occur in 82.5% of people with fragile X syndrome (Cordeiro et al., 2011) and congenital heart defects occur in 50% of people with Down’s syndrome (Freeman et al., 1998). Health inequalities for people with LD in the UK largely result from barriers in accessing timely and effective health care.
Annual health checks for people with LD aged 14 and above were introduced to reduce health inequalities in this population and provide timely identification of unmet physical and mental health needs. However, recent NHS Digital Data suggest that uptake is less than 50%. Research is needed to understand the barriers to the effective healthcare for people with LD.
This project will investigate physical and mental health in people with idiopathic intellectual disability and those with rare genetic syndromes. It will also explore ways to reduce health inequalities for this population by improving the quality and uptake of Annual Health Checks for people with learning disabilities through the development of an integrated care model between primary care, secondary care, and schools.
This studentship is funded by the NIHR Applied Research Centre West Midlands (ARC WM). ARC WM is a five-year initiative commencing in October 2019 with a mission to create lasting and effective collaborations across health and social care organisations, universities (Birmingham, Keele, Warwick) and local authorities to improve the services we can deliver for patient benefit.
West Midlands Research Showcased in Nationally Significant Applied Health and Care Research Publication
Research from the West Midlands has been featured in a newly released flagship document that demonstrates the impact of National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded applied research to transform health and care across England.
The publication, ‘The Legacy of the CLAHRCs 2014-19 – 5 Years of NIHR-Funded Applied Health Research’ compiles key research projects from the NIHR Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs). Drawing together case studies from priority themes, the document demonstrates how the CLAHRCs conducted innovative research leading to improved outcomes for patients, better and more cost-effective services while challenging health inequalities.
Researchers in the Maternity theme of CLAHRC West Midlands developed a triage tool for pregnant women who were experiencing difficulties - the Birmingham Symptom-specific Obstetric Triage System (BSOTS). This tool began as pilot in one West Midlands NHS Trust, before being rolled out across a further three Trusts in the West Midlands where it was shown to be robust and reliable. It has now been implemented in 39 units, including in Australia, with a further 25 in the process of implementation, and the team were awarded the Health Service Journal Patient Safety Award for Maternity and Midwifery Services in 2020 (page 14).
Our Research Methodology team also refined the use of Rapid Response Research and Stepped Wedge Cluster Randomised Trials (SWCRTs), encouraging stakeholder engagement with research, and allows for more complex trials to be conducted, including a five-arm RCT of over 8,000 frontline NHS staff (page 37).
Dr Louise Wood CBE, co-lead NIHR, Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the Department of Health and Social Care, said:
“The NIHR CLAHRCs increased the country’s applied health and care research capacity and capability, making this a key strength of the NIHR. These case studies are a fantastic demonstration of the CLAHRCs’ impact on improving services and outcomes for patients and the public, across a wide range of priority areas. Our Applied Research Collaborations continue to build on this legacy.”
Read the full document at: https://arc-wm.nihr.ac.uk/impact/clahrc_legacy.pdf
Since October 2019, the NIHR Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) have continued the work of the CLAHRCs. They deliver research relevant to the needs of their local populations, while contributing to nationally identified research priority areas.
ARC WM is leading the Public Involvement in the ARC National Priority on Social Care and Social Work. The first, important stage was to understand the landscape for public involvement in Adult Social Care and Social Work. We completed a scoping exercise that would be used to inform future ways of working in partnership with people who access Adult Social Care Services.
We are now delighted to publish the report from the scoping exercise - available here.
The objectives from the scoping exercise are set out below:
- To understand current involvement, activity, and networks of those with lived experience of adult social care in the ARCs.
- To understand the scale and scope of the existing national social care research networks and within national programmes such as the School for Social Care Research.
- To gain the views of stakeholders within the ARCs and existing national networks regarding how best the Public & Community Involvement, Engagement & Participation (PCIEP) can add value in social care research.
- To understand the accessibility and diversity issues regarding user engagement/ co-production in social care research.
ARC WM will now take forward the recommendations of the report on behalf of the national consortium – we do hope that you will be interested in engaging with us again as developments progress.
For more information, please contact Prof. Robin Miller: email@example.com
A new online Health Research Exchange (HREx) network has been created for researchers to share ideas, run workshops, advertise new projects or publications, find mentors, or discuss methods or findings.
The HREx network is aimed mainly at early career researchers (including doctoral students) in health services research, health management and policy, health economics, and public health at Universitas 21 (U21) institutions.
A launch event is being held on Wednesday 7 July at 3pm (UK time)/10am (EST) to introduce key features of the platform. You can register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/health-research-exchange-hrex-information-session-tickets-161149561677?aff=affiliate1
The network is a collaboration between University of Birmingham and the University of Maryland, College Park, and is sponsored by U21. Simply register and log on here: https://community.universitas21.com/login/index.php