ARC Yorkshire and Humber Research Team Wins ‘Dialogue and Change’ award for their patient and public involvement and engagement work

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An ARC Yorkshire and Humber Research Team based at the University of York, that evaluated Wakefield District Housing’s Mental Health Navigator scheme has been awarded the ‘Dialogue and Change’ award from Investing in Children for their outstanding patient and public involvement (PPI) work.

The independent award recognises projects that demonstrate meaningful dialogue where people with lived experience work together with researchers to make real improvements, leading to positive changes. 

The Mental Health Navigators (MHN) Evaluation is evaluating the impact and implementation of the Wakefield District Housing (WDH) MHN scheme, assessing the outcomes for tenants and factors which enable successful implementation of the scheme.

WDH is a large social housing provider, covering Wakefield and a wider area across the North of England, and its MHN scheme aims to support those experiencing mental health difficulties to stay in safe and secure housing and improve their wellbeing. This study aims to share the lessons learnt from the evaluation to enable further roll of the MHN scheme and thus support more people who are experiencing mental health difficulties and resulting vulnerabilities.

The team spoke with people who have had mental health issues and lived in social housing. They asked for their thoughts and suggestions throughout the research project, who explained they felt like ‘they were equal partners in the research, not just used for their stories.’

The people they spoke to said the researchers really listened to their ideas and made changes based on what they said. For example, the researchers made their consent forms and information sheets easier to understand after getting feedback. They also changed their interview questions to be more supportive to participants.

“Often you get the feeling that you’re just being ticked off in a box. It often felt like we were being pimped out by people to just go out and do a presentation and that’s it. They’d design a presentation for you and you’d go off and be the face of it, even though you had no say in it. They didn’t actually want our opinion, because that might be contrary to what they believe. And eventually I got a bit ticked off with it, I didn’t just want to be a ticked box. This is proper involvement, proper PPI. Here the involvement is so much more inclusive.”

“Do I think they’re worthy [of the award]? Yeah, I do. And it’s on a personal level because of how they’ve involved me; how they’ve listened to me; when they’ve said they’re going to do something, that they’ll go away and do it. I feel that I’ve been invested in, I’ve been heard. My opinions have been listened to and been acted on.”

“For me, getting involved in this research, it’s been liberating for me. I’ve got a use. I’ve got a purpose. I’m not just on the scrap heap, it feels like it’s brought me back to life.”

The assessor concluded that the PPIE members were included on equal terms to academics and professionals. Their diverse perspectives and understanding of service users’ needs led to important contributions that may have otherwise been overlooked.

The participants who were listened to said it was an empowering experience. They want other research projects to work in the same way. By fostering open communication and genuinely valuing PPI input, the research team created an empowering experience that satisfied key criteria of recovery models.

The research team behind the evaluation is led by Dr Sarah Blower at University of York, with collaborators from the University of Newcastle, The University of Manchester, NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria and NIHR ARC Greater Manchester. The project is funded via the NIHR ARC ‘National Priority Consortium – Health and Care Inequalities’ led by NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria and NIHR ARC Yorkshire & Humber: https://arc-nenc.nihr.ac.uk/national-priority-consortium-in-health-and-care-inequalities/

For more information please contact: 

Dr Sarah Blower, Project Chief Investigator: University of York sarah.blower@york.ac.uk

The Dialogue and Change Award: The Dialogue and Change Award – ARC (nihr.ac.uk)

Investing in Children: https://investinginchildren.net/

NIHR ARC North East and North Cumbria: https://arc-nenc.nihr.ac.uk/

NIHR ARC Greater Manchester https://arc-gm.nihr.ac.uk/ 

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