CRIPACC Current research highlights

CRIPACC'S Professor Wendy Wills is the new director of the NIHR ARC East of England

On 1 October 2022 Professor Wendy Wills became the new director of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied research Collaborations (ARC) in the East of England. Previously Professor Wills had been ARC EoE's theme lead for Prevention and Early Detection in Health and Social Care.

To learn more of Professor Will's new appointment visit the ARC's website.

Enhancing research capacity in adult social care in the East of England: The SCRiPT study

Enhancing research capacity in adult social care in the East of England: The SCRiPT study

The University of Hertfordshire in collaboration with the University of East Anglia has been awarded funding of almost £1 million by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to build research capacity in adult social care services across Hertfordshire and Norfolk. Over one million adults in the UK receive personal and practical care and assistance from social care for a wide range of reasons, including critical support for age-related issues, health conditions, and disabilities. In partnership with Hertfordshire County Council and Norfolk County Council, the researchers will establish four new Social Care Research in Practice Teams (RiPTs). The team members will receive funding to enhance their research skills and confidence, and to design and implement new research projects to advance social care in the region. Part of their research training will be through the successful and well-established ARC Fellows scheme, led by Christine Hill. The team is also working with the NIHR Clinical Research Network Eastern in developing other parts of the training programme. The user-led organisation, Shaping Our Lives, will support the RiPTs to ensure experts by experience are involved in the projects and the resulting research is inclusive and relevant for local users of social care services. The overall aim is to evaluate if the RiPT model can mobilise research learning and promote the undertaking of research that reflects the priorities and challenges of the populations social care serve.

One of six similar schemes across England funded by the NIHR, the project also provides more opportunities for collaboration between social care practitioners in Hertfordshire and Norfolk. Participants will benefit from opportunities to share skills and best practices with colleagues from a range of areas of social care.

Kathryn Almack, Professor of Health, Young People and Family Lives and project lead at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding that will enable us to significantly raise the profile of research within the field of adult social care. It is fantastic to have investment from the NIHR and backing from senior figures in Hertfordshire and Norfolk County Councils.”

The project partners are University of Hertfordshire (lead), University of East Anglia, Kings College London, Hertfordshire County Council, Norfolk County Council, NIHR Applied Research Collaboration East of England, Shaping our Lives.

Find out more on the official SCRIPT study website.

The University of Hertfordshire-led NIHR Public Health Interventions Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST)

The University of Hertfordshire has been named as one of four academic research partners for a NIHR (National Institute Health Research) scheme, to evaluate local authority public health schemes that aim to improve health in local communities and reduce health inequalities in the UK.

As part of the NIHR’s Public Health Research Programme, the four Public Health Interventions Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRSTs) will connect with local authorities to facilitate, guide and evaluate their non-NHS public health interventions schemes. The programme will enable local authorities to access research expertise and build further evidence bases for innovative new health intervention schemes.

Find out more on the official PHIRST website.

The READY Trial (randomised trial of energetic activity for depression in young people)

A research team led by the University of Hertfordshire has won a £2.27m contract from the NIHR to investigate if exercise is a beneficial treatment for mild to moderate depression in young people aged 13-17.

The multi-disciplinary research trial will include health, psychology and exercise researchers and practitioners from the School of Life and Medical Sciences and the School of Health and Social Work at the University of Hertfordshire, Norwich Clinical Trials Unit, University of East Anglia, The Centre for Health, Wellbeing and Behaviour Change at the University of Bedfordshire, two Mental Health Trusts in Hertfordshire and Norfolk & Suffolk and the local community sports provider organisations.

The READY Trial (Randomised trial of Energetic Activity for Depression in Young people) will commence with an initial trial with young people in the East of England region, which will be followed by a nationwide research study involving more than 1,000 young people starting in 2021.

The study will compare the benefit of exercise for young people living with depression participating in either a high intensity, or low intensity group exercise sessions, with spending time with a group of their peers.

Co-lead researcher Dr Daksha Trivedi, Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care, University of Hertfordshire, added: “We will be working closely with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and GPs to sensitively work with families and health providers to research and potentially find effective use of behavioural medicine and exercise to treat depression”

Co-lead researcher Dr David Wellsted, Centre for Health Services and Clinical Research, University of Hertfordshire, commented: “There is a gap in support and care for this particular age group. In 2018 in Hertfordshire alone over 1000 young people were referred for mental health support. Our study will explore if participation in group exercise is an effective intervention for depression, which could help communities provide support for young people experiencing these issues, as well as relieving pressure on NHS services.”

Principal Research Clinical Psychologist for the Children, Family and Young People’s Mental Health Service, Dr Tim Clarke from Norfolk commented: “This is a great opportunity to explore an intervention that expands traditional offers of support for young people with low mood and could potentially improve provision and increase access to evidence based interventions. The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are excited to be working with the University of Hertfordshire on this trial and working with local young people to test this intervention”.

Find out more on the official The Ready Trial website.

Developing research resources, And minimum data set for Care Home's Adoption and use (#DACHA_study)

The University of Hertfordshire is leading a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded four-year DACHA study to improve how researchers, health and social care services can use existing data to improve the care and quality of life for care home residents, families and staff.

Over £2.2 million has been awarded for the study - Developing research resources and minimum data set for care homes' adoption and use – which will address the need to develop robust systems that support how all the different services and individuals (e.g. care staff, NHS professionals, family, regulators, social services) work together for residents’ benefit.

The study will review how current health and social care systems work, what “good” looks like, explore the evidence on how to integrate data and test what a minimum dataset would need to be the key resource for all those working in and for care homes. The findings have the potential to deliver a step-change in how we understand the needs of the care home population. This could be a resource that supports the provision of high quality care across the country.

The study is a joint collaboration between Claire Goodman, Professor of Health Care Research, NIHR Senior Investigator at the University of Hertfordshire and Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society’s, which is partnering with NIHR on the project.  The study will tackle a major unmet need and provide a greater understanding of how the care system as a whole can ensure people with dementia in care homes receive the best quality care

The study, which is due to start in November 2019, will bring together 12* other institutions working collaboratively to develop reciprocal systems of working between the NHS and care homes that optimise current provision and research on its effectiveness.

Find out more on the official DACHA Study website.

Hertfordshire Public Health Connect

Hertfordshire Public Health Connect is a partnership between the University of Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire County Council Public Health Department. Hertfordshire Public Health Connect aims to bring together information about excellent public health research, practice and education for all professionals and students involved in Public Health in Hertfordshire and the East of England.

Hostile Environments: Migration and Food Poverty in the UK

New research led by Dr Laura Hamilton (Research Fellow in Food and Public Health) reveals the acute severity of food poverty experienced by migrant families who have ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) in the UK. Citizens Advice estimate that 1.4 million people have the NRPF condition attached to their immigration status, meaning they have limited access to state support, even in times of crisis. Commissioned by The Food Foundation, this research aimed to understand the challenges experienced by families with NRPF in affording and accessing food. The participants included  affected families and the organisations that support them, including front-line services, advocacy and campaign groups.

The findings reveal how living with NRPF is fraught with a ‘perpetual state of uncertainty, hostility and hardship’ that can last for months or years, requiring ongoing support from charities and advocacy groups. This has immediate and long-term impacts on diet, health and quality of life. Some organisations expressed the view that the immigration system was deliberately designed to be ‘hostile’ and complex to discourage people from settling in the UK. The findings from this study can be found in the full report, ‘Hostile Environments: Immigration and Food Poverty in the UK’.