Staff Choice Awards 2018/19
Innovation Award

Dr Bonnie Teague

Is a finalist for this award

Job title
Research Manager 
Research and Development Department 
Hellesdon Hospital, Norwich 

The nomination said...

Bonnie is a dynamic individual who has developed and expanded the Research & Development Department effectively to encompass two distinct thriving areas. One is the successful delivery of funded projects that enable service users and carers to participate in high-quality research aimed at improving the quality of our diverse range of mental health services. The second is unique when compared to other mental health trusts, where she has organised a specific team to develop funding applications for new research.

She really places continuous emphasis on developing the necessary skills of each individual within the two teams, which means everyone is made to feel part of a culture of learning and development as individual research practitioners. This in turn means we feel confident in working across the whole organisation in building connections with clinical teams, and in disseminating evidence-based outcomes to directly benefit clinical practice.

Bonnie excels on supporting staff to use their initiative and drive forward their projects to a high standard through which the department has achieved national acclaim and recognition. We have the evidence! Research participants give positive feedback, demonstrated through the Clinical Research Network Eastern annual experience surveys. Since 2013, recruitment to studies has increased year-on-year from 322 participants from 20 studies to 1,194 participants from 37 studies. This has vastly increased everyone’s opportunities to take part in beneficial research.

Bonnie has spearheaded NSFT’s unique research development programme; an innovative idea to develop a specialised team to design new research that directly aims to improve our services through applying for national and global research funding. She oversees the development of applications which have already led to funding success through the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and the publication of numerous high-quality journal articles, raising a positive profile for NSFT.

Not only did the team successfully secure funding for four projects in 2017/18, including two awarded by the NIHR, but the focus of the grants relates to new ways of delivering care in areas which are traditionally under-represented in clinical research. And importantly, all of the grants take a co-production approach in involving service users and carers, as well as drawing in clinicians who are new to research.

Bonnie does all of this by recognising and encouraging each individual’s contribution to the process, offering critical advice to push our thinking further into robust study design. Her favourite question is: “So what?”! But when it comes to bidding for competitive research funding, this is what reviewers will ask, so her approach is very meaningful.

She helps us understand the complexities of integrated working with academic and other partner organisations, as these are key to building our research projects and networks.

Bonnie is a real ‘development’ person and provides, supports and creates opportunities for staff to develop their roles and skills. This impacts both on the person’s confidence, commitment and capabilities to complete their current roles but also to carve out a career plan. This makes the team feel valued and supported. She is a visionary and has constant ideas of how the R&D Team can develop and be able to respond to external requirements and changes. This, I feel, has enabled the team to be great role models in upholding professional standards, looking at how to always raise the bar and provide a quality service that we are proud to be part of.

Bonnie always puts her staff team and their development before her own, and the team’s wellbeing is of upmost importance to her. She always makes time for everyone and will reprioritise their workloads to support others. She is refreshingly honest and manages staff expectations well.

Bonnie supports the professional development of the research team. We have been given opportunities to complete postgraduate masters degrees in Clinical Research which enhance our understanding and give us skills in problem-solving, assertiveness and decision-making.

She has the ability to recognise an individual team member’s qualities and strengths, then provides practical support and guidance to develop skills. She demonstrates a unique ability to promote autonomous thinking and practice among staff while also providing a supportive environment and place to bring issues and concerns. This has resulted in a team of motivated and driven practitioners whose key talents complement both their own personal development and the needs of patients and carers, the department and the organisation.

She is approachable and always open for discussions of ways to take research ideas forward, and proactive in her approach to staff development. We have been encouraged to create Research Nurse / Research OT peer group forums, help develop research training and get involved in research policy development. She has surveyed areas of knowledge and competence, and set up task groups to address any gaps.

Bonnie’s innovative idea of offering a bespoke training programme, which research staff are encouraged to lead on developing and facilitating, ensures skills and knowledge are shared with and available as a resource across the whole Trust.

This is something other trusts look up to and hold NSFT in high regard, as there is nothing else like it. Bonnie also makes sure she works with the department to adapt the training (hence the new training programme we are developing) to meet people’s training needs, and to keep things refreshed in this ever-changing world of research we live in!