‘One Wales; Working together in research’ was the theme of this year’s Health and Care Research Wales’ support and delivery event. Bringing together over 150 staff from across Wales, the event explored how we can collaborate to improve the breadth and quality of research in Wales.
Combining emotive plenaries with thought-provoking workshops, the day is a valued opportunity for staff to share best practice, develop professional skills and celebrate achievements from the past year.
At Jurys Inn, Cardiff and chair Nicola Williams, director of support and delivery, kick started the day with a brief outline of progress and plans.
She highlighted the importance of a One Wales Seamless Service, which is viewed by Health and Care Research Wales as essential for supporting and delivering high quality health and social care research.
The Seamless Service refers to realising ‘One Wales’ - that all systems and processes are consistent across all NHS organisations, Once for Wales - that all systems and processes are done once on behalf of all NHS organisations in Wales, and One Site Wales - that NHS Wales is conceptualised as a single research site.
She was followed by Carys Thomas and Michael Bowdery, joint interim directors of Health and Care Research Wales, who delivered an overview of the ‘bigger picture’ for Welsh research, including statistics that showcase our successes, Brexit implications and a funding forecast.
Delegates were invited to choose from a selection of simultaneous workshops to attend in the morning and the afternoon. Varying from data capture to developing resilience, there was something to interest everyone.
Following refreshments, delegates headed back into the main plenary room to hear Chris Stock, head of communication and engagement, speak about the importance of research stories in practice. His emotive speech, using research stories close to his own heart, was a moving reminder of why we all do what we do, and also how important it is to share these research voices; to inspire, motivate and remember.
In the words of chair Nicola, “we’re not sure how we’re going to follow that”, but luckily the exact man for the job was next to take the stage. Angelo Miccichie, who lives with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), spoke as a patient who has been involved in research. Angelo was able to offer a unique perspective, as he works in research and development in Bristol.
He spoke about the parts of research involvement which he found most important and offered useful advice on how to deliver patient friendly involvement. This included using relevant research questions, being open with the time, energy and cost of involvement, keeping protocol burden to a minimum, and how to inform those who do not meet a study’s screening criteria.
After a networking lunch, and attendance of their second workshop of choice, delegates settled in the main hall for the final two sessions of the day. First up to the stage was Jade Cole, specialist nurse and team lead for critical care research, who spoke about optimising opportunities for consent, for example by introducing different staffing models to increase availability through nights and weekends. She gave a fantastic overview of the hard work of the critical care research team at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, and how everyone can learn more about delayed and deferred consent to make the most of opportunities to undertake research.
To finish the day, Ian Govier from Academi Wales, gave a fascinating talk titled “Leadership on Ice”. Ian told us the story of one of the most famous but least successful explorers, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton set out to be the first to lead a team to the South Pole, but unfortunately never made it. But what he did do, is successfully lead a large team of men through extreme adversity and delivered them all home alive, resulting in his mission being considered one of the best examples of leadership ever.
Ian led us through Shackleton’s journey, with accompanying tips on how we can incorporate his traits into leadership in our own lives. As an example of bravery, Ian even encouraged us to try some “penguin meat”, which Shackleton survived on. A few plucky volunteers were probably pleased to discover it was actually beef jerky!
After the enlightening journey of Shackleton came to an end, it was time for the awards. Now in their second year, the Health and Care Research Wales Support and Delivery Service Research Impact Awards celebrate the big achievements of those working within the support and delivery service. There were three main award categories: public, research community and staff. Read more about the winners in our awards coverage story.
As the day closed, there was a positive buzz in the air. Achievements had been recognised, and new skills learned. Helen Grindell, head of the Support and Delivery Centre, said: “It was great to hear about the progress made so far in support and delivery, to get a chance to recognise and celebrate the work we all do and to be part of the exciting plans to achieve our shared vision for One Wales.
“I found the speakers very inspirational and a great reminder of why we are all so passionate about research. The take home message for me is that when we work together, we really can achieve great things.”