Earlier this year I secured a post to join a three-site project (Brighton and Hove, Lincolnshire, Solihull), funded by a Wellcome Trust, Collaborative Award in Humanities and Social Sciences. The project headed by Dr. Lizzie Ward at University of Brighton, is exploring ethical issues in self-funded care for older people.
I was immediately drawn to this project for two reasons. First, I am passionate about involving community members and groups in my research to ensure that their views and experiences are represented. This research not only enables me to continue this passion but also build on it, through its collaborative and co-production ethos. Second, a few years ago and as a consequence of aiding my late grandparents with their care needs I experienced first-hand the ‘maze’ and confusion that is self-funded care. By being part of this project I feel that I can help make a real difference and hopefully contribute to policy and practice that ensures experiences like mine do not happen to other people in the same situation.
Since joining the team in April, I have been busy ‘getting to know’ the project and the background context to the research. Throughout this time, I have had great support from Mo and developed a brilliant working relationship with her and the wider team. I have had the opportunity inter alia to attend full team meetings, organise and facilitate co-research meetings, meet and work with Evergreen (the community partner, for the Lincolnshire site, on the project) attend early career workshops, and attend relevant community events. Presently, I am drafting a report on the demographic profile of the older adult population and the profile of care provision in Lincolnshire.
There are so many aspects to this research which I am thoroughly enjoying. A particular highlight for me, so far, has been organising and attending monthly co-research meetings. Here, I get to engage with a fantastic team of co researchers who are passionate about the topic area, have a real interest in the research process, and who all bring something special unique to the research from their life experiences.
By being part of this collaborative project and working as part of a great team I feel that I am not only developing my skills as a researcher, but that I am contributing to research, which has real potential to make a difference to policy and practice.