Rachel Carney, Student MSc Health Research, University of Stirling
My name is Rachel. I am a student at the University of Stirling and I am working in the NHS in a psychiatric liaison team. My job involves assessing the mental health of people with a learning disability, and I have worked in dementia services in the past.
As part of my studies at the University of Stirling, I had the opportunity to undertake a virtual research placement with Stand by Me.
The team were all very friendly.
In my placement I learned about:
The process of getting ethical approval for Stand by Me
Helping with a literature review to explore what is already known about couples with a learning disability and dementia
Looking at best practice in involving people with a learning disability and dementia in research
How to communicate research in accessible ways
How research gets funded and how researchers need to manage their budgets
I also joined one of the team’s advisory group meetings, which take place online just now.
I enjoyed hearing the views of others and seeing how the team plans each step of the project together.
For this meeting researchers from the United States were present, and it was interesting to learn about practice and research in America. We talked about what is different and what is similar.
During and after advisory group meetings, the team uses easyread material to make information accessible. I tried recording the minutes from the meeting, using photosymbols. This was great fun and I am looking forward to using it in my own practice.
I think in my work we could be better at making information accessible to people with a learning disability.
At the end of the placement, I was able to use the skills that I learned about.
I conducted my own literature review to find good practice examples of research studies that involve people with a learning disability in the process of analysis. I realised that there are very few examples where researchers have involved people with a learning disability in the process of analysis.
People with a learning disability are more often involved in planning research and communicating the results from research.
Some of the examples I found highlighted the importance of explaining difficult research words to people and offering them training.
In one study people with a learning disability found it difficult to work with extracts from interviews in a written form.
It might be helpful to use different ways to look at data together, such as audio recordings or visual representations of the data.
I’m excited to be able to use my experience in the future.