The topic was ‘How applied health research is supporting people with multiple long-term conditions and reducing health and care inequalities.’ The seminar was chaired by Dr Rishi Das-Gupta, Chief Executive, Health Innovation Network, who explained that it was part of a series providing a space for everyone working to improve health and social care to exchange knowledge, experience, information, learning and ideas. 

The event began with a presentation by Dr Clare Coultas, research associate, ARC South London public health and multimorbidity theme and Rashmi Kumar, a patient and public involvement representative in ARC South London’s palliative and end of life care theme. Their presentation focused on findings from an ARC public involvement workshop on health and social care research for people with multiple long-term conditions. 

They highlighted that although this is a priority area for research funders, research is commonly organised in ways that are not ideal for engaging with people living with multiple long-term conditions. Dr Coultas said: “We wanted to create space to explore the experiences of people who don't neatly fit into these siloed ways of working, and ensure that aspects of their experiences aren't falling through the cracks. And that we're not failing to recognise the wholeness of people's experiences.”

Some of themes that emerged from discussions at the workshop were:

  • the importance of asking people what they want research on
  • using the arts and creative ways to communicate with people about research
  • opening up research opportunities to families, friends and carers, who often play a vital role in people's health and care experiences
  • the importance of creating space for discussions around the negative experiences that people have had in health and social care.

There is a need for people to share their experiences so that health and care professionals, as well as researchers can understand the day-to-day challenges people are going through. Intrinsic in that is the involvement of as much diversity as possible, not just culturally but in terms of age, language, and socio-economically

Rashmi Kumar, a patient and public involvement representative in ARC South London’s palliative and end of life care theme

The second presentation from Dr Jane Stafford focused on the development of the Therapeutic Engagement Questionnaire (TEQ) – a tool for measuring the impact of engagement with nurses in mental health care – and its potential use in a variety of other care settings. The development of the TEQ was led Professor Mary Chambers.

Collen Baffana, manager of an adult mental health ward at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton, commented on the use of TEQ.

The TEQ is a great tool to make us stop, think and say – we've been using this medical model, but have we managed to complement it with the social aspect of sitting down with the patients, and asking them questions to understand their illness. The TEQ helped develop a partnership between the patients and the staff. This didn’t need any extra funding, it only needed us to focus on the patient's expectations […] and respecting that they are experts in their recovery

Collen Baffana, manager of an adult mental health ward at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton

Collen also highlighted the importance of building a good rapport with staff nurses and the medical team, which allowed patients to discuss the social problems that they may have been facing, such as domestic violence, housing or issues related to the pandemic. 

Following these presentations, Dr Josephine Ocloo, diversity and inclusion lead, ARC South London invited comments from two members of the ARC's public research panel, Chris Pavlakis and Smarajit Roy. Issues raised by the panel members included: 

  • the need for robust research with meaningful public and patient involvement
  • diverse and inclusive research embedded in all stages to make sense of the evidence on multiple long-term conditions
  • the need for better understanding and evidence to identify the effects of taking multiple medications
  • better understanding to improve and drive advances in preventative strategies and more holistic treatment that sees the person as a whole.

After a wider group discussion, there were breakout sessions exploring questions related to the presentations and group feedback.

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