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Case study: Why people in Medway should take part in health and care research

Kevin talks about the research activity he has taken part in.

"Medway Community Healthcare (MCH) when I signed up to take part in the DWELL Programme research project (DWELL - Diabetes and WELLbeing) The DWELL programme gave people with Type 2 diabetes a different way of looking at their condition and the way they manage it. The programme took place over 12 sessions and gave people access to tailored support.

Through the DWELL programme I became further interested in research and what I can do to support research activity. Research as a concept has fired my imagination. Today's research is tomorrow's treatments. Research is not just about creating brand new drugs, it may be about how to better fit a cannula, or how to treat strokes differently. We need people’s experiences and feedback to refine our treatments.

Being involved with the DWELL programme and the research team at MCH has given me knowledge about diabetes and research which adds to the roundness of the conversations I have with people about their condition. It has led me to ask questions of every doctor I come across and I now watch almost every medical program on TV.

I have continued to be part of research. A few years ago I was involved with a research project looking at doctor’s surgeries and how they can be managed better. The study was entitled 'GP Teams - How general practice team composition and climate relate to quality, effectiveness and human resource costs: a mixed methods study in England'. The study was run by the University of Surrey and we met in London four times a year to talk to the researchers about what can be improved.

As well as taking part in research studies, during the COVID-19 pandemic I had a role as a patient adviser to the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) on a large number of small projects on COVID-19-related matters. One project was helping to make the language used to inform the public about COVID-19 easy to understand and clear. Members of the public must have the opportunity to tell researchers and policymakers what does and does not work when being informed about health-related issues and research and I was delighted to be involved and contribute to important work to help the public during a pandemic.

More people should become involved with research, even if it is just going online to see what research projects are out there. Research is a beautiful thing and we need everyone to get on board to learn more about what research is and is not."

'Research Ready Communities' is a national effort by the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) to open up our research to communities who could most benefit from taking part. Through this programme, CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex has partnered with local community organisations such as Medway Voluntary Action, and our local NHS and wider research delivery partners in the area, to better understand the perspectives and priorities of local people, and to share opportunities. We are so delighted to have connected with Kevin, who volunteers with MCH, and is a local resident who has taken part in research himself. We look forward to opportunities for further collaboration in Medway as the project matures, and to working with Kevin along our journey.