Sowing the seeds of collaboration
In June 2018 I was fortunate to be selected to join a Newton Fund OPAL event in Brazil on identifying and addressing shared challenges of conducting health and social care research with older people, funded by the British Council and the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). The programme aimed to develop research collaborations between the UK (led by University of Nottingham) and Brazil (led by Sao Paulo State University UNESP), and led to the development of several working groups including one focusing on long-term care.
A year later an opportunity arose to join the faculty for a second programme in Brazil which was centred on research for ‘Improving care in Long-Term Care Institutions in Brazil and Europe through Collaboration and Research – LOTUS’ and I was awarded seed corn funding from the Division of Population Medicine to attend.
Nurturing green shoots and new beginnings
The GCRF funded LOTUS workshop at UNESP in Botucatu brought together care home researchers from the UK, Austria, the Netherlands, and Brazil, and was led by Dr Reena Devi, Dr Kathryn Hinsliff-Smith and Prof Adam Gordon. There was also an opportunity for Brazilian gerontology students to join for part of the three day workshop.
The first part of the programme established a common understanding about how ageing populations and long-term care sectors in Brazil and Europe compare, share some of the existing research, before identifying the current challenges for Brazilian and European care homes and starting work to generate innovative and collaborative solutions.
Sharing experiences from our care home research in Wales
Part of the programme explored long-term care as a place to do research, during which I talked about research co-operation between universities and long term care describing models we have used in Wales.
This was illustrated with examples such as the PRINCESS Study, Research Priority Setting in Care Homes, DECISION Study, and the establishment of the ENRICH Cymru network of ’research ready’ care homes by the Wales School for Social Care Research.
Building research collaborations and friendships
An important part of both the OPAL and LOTUS programmes is the developing of research collaborations both within and between countries, and also the opportunity to build friendships. We were very fortunate that Brazil has such beautiful scenery, delicious food and drink, and lovely people which makes the perfect backdrop for this!
Next steps ….
Collaborative groups have been established to explore specific areas for future international research, such as enhancing dignity in care homes which has already been identified as a research priority by care home staff in the UK, and linking with researchers to identify and explore further research needs and opportunities. These collaborations and ‘new shoots’ of research proposals will be developed further through a second LOTUS event at the University of Nottingham later in the year. Exciting times ahead!