Enthusiasm abounds at the SCRC’s fourth practice research event

We were joined by over 35 practitioners from across the partnership at our fourth Research Mindedness and Practitioner Research event held at the AMEX Stadium in October.

The event was kicked off by Cath Holmstrom (University of Brighton) and Dr Reima Maglajlic, (University of Sussex) who invited delegates to bring along an object that symbolises research. The range of objects brought along was incredibly diverse and illustrated how everyone interprets research and being research minded differently. Examples included plants, ‘clouds’, paperweights and many more items.

The morning included a presentation by the Brighton & Hove Hospital Team about their Journal Club which was established by Andrew Haughton, who gave an overview on why and how he set up the Club and how to sustain it going forward:

“I set up journal club about year ago because I wanted an ASYE project and had heard about fellow students who had done research groups or journal clubs on placements – there wasn’t one in the team. I really enjoy reading research and sharing with the team. Colleagues commented that they didn’t really talk about research anymore so were enthusiastic about the concept. We have made it voluntary and collaborative.

A really beneficial factor in establishing this Club has been the support of my supervisor – management buy in was the key. I was also an ASYE so had more time and access to articles and was still fresh from university.

When thinking about how to move forward I googled and researched about how to run a journal club; RiPfa have a How to run a journal club briefing which is a good place to start. I took the bits I liked from this but found it a bit formal and wanted it to be more engaging and informal.

Thinking about tips I would give to others who would like to set up something similar, I would say:
1. It’s important to have a regular space and we have a meeting room we can use.
2. You need someone with drive and tenacity to be behind it.
3. Lightly, lightly – you mustn’t get disheartened if one month people don’t turn up.
4. Make sure the research is accessible in terms of readability so that practitioners can easily digest and absorb ahead of club.
5. You need a chair or facilitator for each meeting so that someone can focus it; How is this going to impact on our practice. You could have a rotating chair so that each member of the team has the opportunity. It’s a good space for balance between experience and research.

Difficulties I have and do encounter are around two key issues:

  • Lack of protected time for the Club – the team has been really supportive but currently we are running the Club in our lunch break so it’s difficult to always get people. Moving forward I am looking to put together an evaluation that we can take to management and say what benefits the team have found in the journal club and hopefully get buy in from managers to embed the Club with a monthly hour of protected time for this purpose.
  • Access to journals is difficult – RiPfa is good but tends to be an overview of subjects. If we still have ASYE in team they will still have access to the university subscriptions, but this is something that could may be explored by the teaching partnership.

The Club is going well and 9 out the 12 months it has been running participation has varied between 3 and 10 in the room. The team has taken it on board now having had a reticent and we are now sharing more and more research.

If I was starting again I would do things slightly differently. It’s been quite organic in its development. I would have involved the teams earlier to check availability and what would work best and asking if people were willing to give up their lunch. Another factor in addition to getting the management buy in to set aside time (outside of lunch) would be to put into practitioner PDPs.”

Laura Power, a Newly Qualified Social Worker in the team commented:

“I like how collaborative the Journal Club is and how enthusiastic the team are – it’s quite informal and you don’t have to have read the article in advance. It’s really useful for students and ASYE for PCF 9. It’s a really helpful way of keeping up to date with research; for example we explored a piece of research around making safeguarding with older people more personal. I was able to bring this to a case recently and as a result make a much better referral.”

At the end of the event, the most common feedback included a desire for more such events structured to provide a framework for supporting practitioners with confidence and skills required to make changes at individual and team levels.