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Case study: CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex Research Delivery Team’s contribution to the success of the DACHA study

Members of the DACHA study team spoke to CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex about how the Research Delivery Team has helped them to engage care homes with the study in the southeast region.

The DACHA: Developing research resources And minimum data set for Care Homes’ Adoption study is looking at the data collected about care home residents. The aim is to develop a prototype Minimum Data Set (MDS) that care home staff and the different people who support older people in care homes can use to enhance residents’ quality of life and care. A key part is linking care home data with residents’ data held by health and social care organisations working with care homes.

Led by Professor Claire Goodman, Professor of Health Care Research at the University of Hertfordshire, the study is working with several partners across the country, including the University of Kent. The University of Kent team - Professor Ann-Marie Towers working with Sinead Palmer and Dr Lucy Webster is leading one of the five work packages. This includes recruiting care homes to the study. Information is being taken from software used within the care homes and anonymised.

The CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex Research Delivery Team worked with the DACHA study team to engage care homes with the study in the southeast region. The study was experiencing some issues recruiting the required number of care homes and residents in Surrey and approached CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex for support with recruitment. DACHA is on the CRN Portfolio which makes it eligible for CRN support.

DACHA is a complex study to communicate to care homes, whose staff are already stretched and overwhelmed, without adding research activity to their workload. But the CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex Research Delivery Team successfully communicated the study to care homes residents, their relatives, and staff in the 15 care homes taking part in the study, which led to a large boost in the number of residents recruited. The total number of residents recruited in Surrey was 287.

Sinead Palmer, Research Officer at the University of Kent Personal Social Services Research Unit said: “The Research Delivery Team was particularly helpful in speaking to the care home managers and residents, explaining what the benefits were for taking part and how the study works. Care homes may have been reassured about working with the team because they have a clinical background and so they know how care homes operate. They helped us with recruitment because they got both residents and staff on board - staff who are not clinically qualified and who are not used to research - which was crucial for the success of the project.

“The CRN team was able to do more visits than we could do ourselves and had the time to spend with the staff and residents, getting to know them, building a rapport, and explaining the study and its benefits for the long term.

The team’s experience of working with care homes to run studies meant that they already had processes in place. All care homes that agreed to take part completed a consent form and the CRN team had letters of access which meant they were treated like honorary staff members.

Sinead Palmer continued: “We gave the Research Delivery Team training on different aspects of the study, for example how to communicate with family and people who knew the residents well to obtain their opinion if the person would have consented to the study if they had capacity.”

Lucy Webster, Research Fellow at the University of Kent Centre for Health Services Studies said: “The CRN KSS Research Delivery Team have been helpful with relationship building with the care homes. Care home research needs you to go there and meet the manager and staff to build up trust, and recognise the staff as partners in the study.

“The first wave of data extraction is happening now and the care homes will stay in the study for another six months, when we'll do another round of data extraction. So we will be maintaining relationships for a while and hopefully in the future if we approach them to work with us on another study.”
Sinead Palmer continued: “The Research Delivery Team were great to work with, they were enthusiastic and very responsive. If we had any issues or if they raised any issues, they were resolved straight away.”

Principal Investigator (PI) Professor Claire Goodman commented: "The CRN Research Delivery Team helped us to exceed our recruitment target which we didn't think was possible at the time! The team's enthusiasm and tenacity were quite incredible. They've gone above and beyond to get care homes involved and we take none of this for granted."