Studies win national awards for involving service users and carers

Two groundbreaking research studies by University of Manchester researchers have been recognised nationally for their involvement of service users and carers in their programmes.

CaFI will improve evidence-based care for African Caribbeans with schizophrenia
The CaFI (Culturally-adapted Family Intervention) study, led by Dr Dawn Edge, from the School of Psychological Sciences, has been awarded the 2014 Mental Health Research Network (MHRN) prize for outstanding service user involvement.

While the EQUIP (Enhancing the Quality of User Involvement in Care Planning) study, led by Professor Karina Lovell, from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, took the MHRN’s award for outstanding carer involvement award.

The CaFI study, funded by the  National Institute of Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme launched in October last year. It is anticipated to last three years and will improve the access of effective, evidence-based care for African Caribbeans who have schizophrenia, by developing a new form of ‘talking therapy’ for patients and their families. One of the most consistent findings from decades of mental health research is that African Caribbeans in the UK are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than any other group.
Dr Edge, also part of MMHNHS Trust, said the award had been a team effort: “I’m surprised and delighted but while acknowledging the contribution of the entire research team and the support of the Trust, special thanks go to our Service User Consultant, Reverend Paul Grey, Carer Representative Daisy Barratt and the Trust’s Head of Patient Experience, Patrick Cahoon.”
The study is using breakthrough engagement methods to connect with members of the African Caribbean community and the panel of judges recognised this in their comments. “Service user involvement is thorough, necessary, well thought-out and extensive at all stages, including a service user co-applicant,” said one judge.
Another commented on how the research is much-needed. “The project itself involves and addresses the needs of a minority group, who are generally under-represented in service user involvement,” and: “Project responds to a well-recognised crisis and the needs of a group who face major challenges in area of mental health.”
Service user consultant, Yvonne Thomas, praised the way the team had supported her involvement.
“It makes me feel valued – I appreciate my opinions being taken on board. For instance, in the Research Advisory Group meeting I advised that the researchers used the term ‘service user’ and not ‘patient’ in the research and this was taken on board in the focus groups.”
The EQUIP study, which is funded by the NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) Programme, is inviting carers and service users to take part in surveys to see how care planning can be better coordinated and delivered in the future. The study forms part of a larger programme of work which aims to develop and evaluate a new user/carer led-training package for health professionals to improve user/carer involvement in care planning for mental health.
Professor Lovell said that the recognition of her team’s hard work was welcomed. “We have worked closely with our service user and carer advisory group and are obviously delighted that this engagement has been recognised. We are immensely proud of our excellent user and carer involvement which has emerged from an outstanding team of academics, clinical, users, carers and researchers.”
The awards will be presented at the Annual NIHR Mental Health Research Network Scientific Meeting at the Hilton Hotel, Liverpool, in March.
The CaFI study is currently in its first phase and the team are seeking participants to form focus groups and an ‘Expert Consensus Conference’ to help find out whether it is possible to deliver the therapy on acute and rehabilitation inpatient wards as with patient in community settings.
For more information on the CaFI study or how to get involved please contact Amy Degnan, CaFI study Project Manager on 0161 275 5224 or [email protected]
For more information or to take part in the EQUIP study, please contact the Programme Manager, Claire Fraser on 0161 306 7882 or [email protected]