Discussing public involvement in health research: your chance to chip in #CRNEngage

When we think about health research chances are we picture laboratories and people in white coats dropping things into petri dishes and looking at clipboards.  When you manage to escape from your B-movie visions of scientists, you realise that health research is something that runs through health and social care in general like a letters in a stick of seaside rock.  Fundamental to health research is actually trying things with patients and learning from members of the public how healthcare actually feels to those on the receiving end of it.  This makes the question of who, how and why people become involved in healthcare research a vital question for the not just our NHS and social care as it stands now, but for the whole healthcare system, and medical treatments and options we have in the future.

On Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th October I’m going to be live tweeting using the hashtag #CRNEngage from the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network Strategic Leadership Summit for #beyondtheroom.

The headline for the two days is the question: how do we best involve people in health research and how do we tell the story of what health research does?  I’ve been invited to live tweet from the event as a way of involving people who aren’t professionals in research and engagement in what happens within the room.

The future of health and social care depends on today’s research

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. As the NIHR say: “The future of health and social care depends on today’s research.”.  The NIHR want to support more quality research in the NHS and social care; and supports  increasing the speed with which discoveries are turned into change that benefits people.   The Clinical Research Network (CRN) is the part of the NIHR that puts together the structures, guidance and support that makes it possible for researchers to work with the NHS and social care. The CRN also supports patients to be involved in  new treatments and and carry out health-related research.  They’re particularly interested in ways to make sure that patients and the public at large are included in discussions about how, when and why such research is carried out.

Over the two days, the attendees of the summit will be discussing a wide range of subjects related to people’s involvement in health and social care research.  People are vital for the development of research.  How do we make sure everyone who might want to be involved can be and that no community or group of people is left out? How best can research be made open to members of the public to be involved in? What makes it difficult to take part in research?

These topics will include broader discussion of ways to engage people in thinking about and taking part in health research; how digital might be better to involve people in thinking about and taking part in research and how, in general the value and opportunity of health research might be best put across to the public.  These things usually fall under the slightly dry term of Public and Patient Involvement (PPIE) but are actually about the living breathing heart of research: people and their experiences.  A panel discussion will also take place at the summit where some of these issues will be discussed.

I’ll be tweeting both on the afternoon and evening of the 4th and throughout the day on the 5th and I’m looking for your help as people interested in health and research to help me to raise questions and feed in points of view and experiences to the conversation happening at the Summit.

The two days will prove to be interesting, but will be even more interesting if people who are members of the public and patients can help those attending to reflect on how health research looks and feels to those not involved in carrying it out and designing it.  If you check in on the hashtag #CRNEngage across Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th of October and throw in any thoughts, observations and questions I’ll be able to raise them with the attendees.

Having people looking in via social media will help to give a perspective from lived, real world experience on the discussions happening in the room and will hopefully help to really bring into focus the challenges and opportunities for all of us to help make health and social care better.

Join me (@markoneinfour) on twitter at the hashtag #CRNEngage from 3.00 on Wednesday 4th October.

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