hasu ramji

By Hasu Ramji, ARC KSS Theme Public Advisor for Primary and Community Health Services

A lead researcher (Dr Deborah Ikhile) on an Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS) co-production project Primary and Community Health Services Priority Setting Exercise asked me to share my thoughts and perspectives as a public member, following my participation in the project.

Previously, having contributed on an ad hoc basis (an hour or two) on a variety of ARC KSS projects, on this occasion, I was invited to take part in all stages of the research process -from conception to finished report submission. In addition, I also participated in 'Reflections', an exercise asking each Team member how they felt afterwards on how the research process was realised.

Here, I will just highlight a couple of ideas to underline or provoke your judgement about conducting research – Why Co-production with public members? and secondly, Why 'Reflections' (afterwards)?

On the first issue, involving public members with lived experience, for co-production (i.e. involvement from start to finish), goes to the heart of doing clean, ecological research by helping to test, modify or remove presuppositions and assumptions of researchers. The research design, implementation and interpretation of results become refined with the benefit of insights and perspectives of public contributors along the way. Please bear in mind that public contributors’ experiences – relevant to your research – are not always neatly filed away in one package in their memories, for you to easily fish out in an hour or two of conversation. On any given day, they are generally preoccupied with a multitude of distractions, responsibilities and other matters well outside the realm of health and social care research. However, by involving them in the entire project journey, various relevant aspects of their memories will start to eke out, possibly shedding new light or nuances on research aspects not previously considered by the researchers.

Concerning my invitation to take part in 'Reflections', initially, I felt it was an interesting and novel idea. But when I went through the guided questioning process, it made me realise just how critical and valuable this exercise is and why it should be embedded in almost every project, if not all. If anyone thinks this adds a burdensome layer to any project, I would kindly invite you to think about the real world situation where how many times you have heard a politician or a health care or social care boss utter the stock phrase “lessons will be learnt” (counter reaction to this – “If I got a pound for every time I heard this – I’d be a millionaire!”). I hope, the case is made for reflecting and paying early attention on all possible factors that could be significant when we adopt a mindset of 'constant and never-ending improvement' in everything we do. By pro-actively learning and improving as we go along, we make the lives of communities much better through ARC’s dedicated research efforts.

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