Date: 25 March 2019
Linda Folkes, Clinical Trials Nurse and Patient Research Ambassador Lead and Carla Lewis, Clinical Trials Officer won the Involving Patients in Research Award on behalf of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WSFHT) at the 2019 CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex Partner Awards.
They were nominated for ‘Embracing the Patient Research Ambassadors (PRA) Initiative’, where eight new PRAs were recruited in 2018/19 and who became involved in several projects – including the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Conference, a presentation at the Trust’s Evidence Based Module and taking part in NIHR campaigns.’
Linda Folkes said: “We were told about the PRA Initiative in July and aimed to recruit our first PRA by October. But four amazing people immediately embraced the idea.
“The initiative was launched on 10th October and on 11th and 18th October our first PRA’s helped facilitate two workshop sessions about research at the WSFHT staff conference.”
At the staff conference Linda and Carla ran workshops to raise awareness of research to staff. They devised a puzzle to get people talking about research during these sessions and were supported by PRA’s Sue McGill and Alan Sutton.
Sue McGill said: “I have known Linda for many years and she approached me about becoming a PRA. My background is in community nursing and I appreciate and understand how much research has impacted my practice through the years.
“Linda and Carla have gone out of their way to involve the PRAs with what is going on. We are gaining awareness of what is happening, for instance I did not know that there were over 150 clinical trials happening at Worthing and St Richard's Hospitals and a lot of the staff there also did not know that amount of research was happening.”
Sue also presented at the ‘Evidence Based Practice – The Patient Perspective’ learning module in February, an in-house training programme for staff. She spoke from the perspective on a nurse, patient, researcher and PRA.
Sue added: “Linda and I worked together on the presentation and we were both surprised by what we used to do as nurses and what we do now. Change comes about through research.”
PRAs have also helped Research Fellow Christina Koulouglioti, who is developing a frailty assessment tool. The title of the study is ‘Innovation in the Care of Older People: Exploration of a Holistic Multi-Disciplinary Approach in the Emergency Department’. Christina sought the PRAs views on her proposal and to join the study’s steering group. PRAs also took part in a focus group for CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex to look at messaging for public facing campaigns.
Linda Folkes and Carla Lewis said: “We meet every two months. We have some fun at PRA meetings and keep them informal as we value and appreciate the time they give us. We are in the process of producing flyers to advertise the opportunity to volunteer in this type of role. And more PRAs are coming forward because our current PRAs are spreading the word”.
Carla Lewis said: “Working with patients and the PRAs is one of the best jobs we have in research. When we talk to patients and the public we get to see their views on research from all angles and outside of a clinical environment. We get to listen to what real patients want.”
Linda Folkes added: “Research is embedded across the Trust and our win will be highlighted to colleagues through our internal newsletter.”
Linda and Carla both said: “We are really proud of what we have achieved. To be nominated and recognised for our work accomplishments and the work our PRAs have done so far. We want to thank our PRAs, without their enthusiasm and dedication we would not have been nominated.”
*Left to right, the photo shows: Carla Lewis, Linda Folkes from WSFHY; Dr Kate Jones, Chief Operating Officer NIHR Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex; Professor Geeta Menon, Clinical Director at the NIHR Clinical Research Network in Kent, Surrey and Sussex and Sine Littlewood, Head of Business Development & Marketing (non-commercial) at the NIHR CRN.
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