A new handbook has been published sharing the stories of organisations that tested and implemented the UK Standards for Public Involvement in their research as part of a pilot programme.
Last year a four-nations partnership, including Health and Care Research Wales, released a set of UK Standards for Public Involvement in research, which aimed to help researchers and organisations improve the quality and consistency of public involvement in health and social care research.
The standards were subject to a public consultation and piloting phase involving a network of over 400 registered individuals. In addition, the standards were tested in a year-long programme.
As part of this pilot programme, 10 projects were chosen to test and implement the draft standards during 2018–2019, providing feedback and suggestions. The selected projects spanned organisations, regions and research settings and varied in their size, experience of public involvement and research focus.
Now, a new handbook has been launched sharing the experiences of these projects in implementing the standards. The stories are designed to give a glimpse of the different ways the standards were implemented and integrated into ‘business as usual’ research, or as part of special projects.
In addition to setting out the context of each project, each story provides details about how the project applied the standards, which standards they focused on, what impact the standards had on their outcomes, and reflections about public involvement more broadly.
The Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research in Wales used the ‘Working together’ standard to help develop a volunteering guide laying out the aims and purpose of the Centre as well as providing practical information about being a lay member. Feedback has suggested this guide has become a useful part of the induction and introduction to the Centre.
Dr Charles Musselwhite, Co-Director at CADR said: “CADR was delighted to take part in helping to shape UK Public Involvement Standards. Involvement and engagement is central to all our research and dissemination activity in CADR and we need a systematic way of growing, monitoring and evaluating our involvement and making sure we share and use best practice.
“As a result of being involved in the piloting, we worked with our lay member group to develop a handbook to cover taking part in research activity which helps people get involved in a way they want to be able to, with the research we do. We also improved our communications, looking at accessible online software to grow the number of people across Wales and the UK who could get involved in our research without having to make long journeys to do so.
“Finally, we wanted to make sure we reached out to a diverse range of older people to get involved and engaged with our research, the standards help us reflect on communicating with a wider group of people, including people living with and affected by dementia and people with disabilities.”
At the University of Glasgow the standards provided a rationale for ensuring that a small group of students undergoing their PhD programmes embraced public involvement, even if they were new to this way of working. As a result of this, all these students will have a chapter or section in their PhD thesis on the role and contribution from their public involvement partner, and will also co-write a research paper with this partner for publication in a research journal.
The handbook of implementation stories demonstrates how the standards could be applied to research across many different contexts and organisations.