Staff Choice Awards 2018/19
Team of the Year Award

Research and Library Services

Has been shortlisted for this award

Research and Development Department 
Hellesdon Hospital, Norwich 

The nomination said...

Research and Development and Library Services are a multi-functional department supporting staff, service users and families across Norfolk and Suffolk. It has three main aims, with a team taking the lead on each area:

  1. Research Development Team: To develop new clinically-relevant research projects and grant applications in collaboration with clinical and academic partners, with the aim of improving mental health and older people’s care
  2. Research Delivery Team: To successfully engage NSFT service users and carers in national and international research projects in the areas of Child & Youth, Adult, Wellbeing and Older People’s services
  3. Library Services: To provide NSFT staff with access to the best of evidence-based practice and publications arising from research and evaluation projects, conducted locally and nationally

Underlying these aims are broader aims to up-skill NSFT clinicians in conducting research and evaluation through research training courses, and routinely involve experts by experience in all areas of the service as active collaborators rather than end-users.

Recent outputs from the team include successfully receiving funding for new research studies in areas of significant clinical need, which aim to develop and evaluate new therapies, new ways of working, and improved ways of measuring care. These projects include NSFT Research team members working with clinicians, academics and Experts by Experience. In addition, more service users and carers are involved in NSFT research studies than ever before, with a record 1,200 people taking part last year, and more than 1,350 people in 2018 already. Currently, NSFT is the sixth highest NHS research active organisation in the Eastern region.

One successful example has been a complex research study which aims to provide a brief therapy for young children with a specific phobia (such as blood, vomit, dogs) which affects quality of life, compared to treatment as usual. The Research Development Team was contacted by colleagues from University of York, who were involved in a study which was struggling to recruit participants nationally. The Research Development team offered NSFT as a Trust which could conduct the study, and liaised with clinical teams and partner organisations to ensure that we could successfully deliver it. To support this decision-making, the Library team provided literature about the new therapy and previous research studies which showed that the new therapy was potentially highly effective for specific phobias. The study was then quickly granted go-ahead in the Trust by the Research Facilitation team, before being handed to the Research Delivery Team for recruitment. At the time of writing, NSFT is the top national recruiting organisation for the study, and has supported 36 families so far. Clinically-qualified members of the research team volunteered to be trained in the new therapy, and are now successfully delivering both treatment as usual, and the new brief therapy, for the young children across Norfolk and Suffolk.

I feel that there are two main principles which underlie the team’s success:

  1. Every team member shares a positive vision of providing the best care possible to all service users, carers and families, even if it means going beyond the call of duty. This ethos drives all functioning and decisions made in the department – from strategically identifying clinical needs of our service users and testing innovations to improve care, to the daily face-to-face service the team provides, which aims to improve clinical outcomes and quality of life, and provide people with a good experience of taking part in research. What enables this vision is a can-do attitude across all staff members, which means that every team member contributes equally to this vision, every person steps up and takes responsibility, and everyone works to their best potential every day, as individuals and as a team.
  2. The team also embodies a continual improvement philosophy which means that it is constantly making suggestions to improve practice and the service, so as to provide the best service possible for service users, carers, staff and each other. Once a suggestion has been made, the team works extremely hard to develop and implement the improvements as quickly as possible, and then evaluate impact.
  3. Some examples of these principles from this year include the set-up of team working groups which are focused on service improvements in a) training courses b) promotion of research and experience c) staff engagement and information sharing in research. This has led to outputs such as the set-up of the Research Lead network, a new research training structure and courses, and new generic research Information materials and publications for the public and staff. The team has also set up Team Educational and Development meetings which discuss different aspects of clinical research practice, to improve understanding, staff wellbeing and build team-working, and these meetings recently won an award from the Eastern Clinical Research Network.

Research and Library services regularly undertake user feedback surveys. Library feedback from NSFT staff members include: “The library service is superb. The staff continuously go the extra mile and are more than willing to help and support in any way they can. Nothing is too much trouble”; “I value the library and hope it continues to prosper”.

The research delivery teams have also received feedback from service users and families such as: “It makes me feel good when I’m talking and your staff listen to you when you’re talking. It’s nice to know that some people do care.”; “It was all so simple and completed quickly. It was all very relaxed and efficient.”; “The research greatly helped my recovery after being placed in the active group.”