Sam Roberston.pptx

Dr Sam Robertson, Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) Lead, Approaches to Involvement and Recovery (AIR) Research Theme Lead and Peer Research Fellow at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT), talks about the Individual Development Award (IDA) Future Leader Award that she received from the Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS).

These awards are aimed at individuals employed by a health or social care organisation who are an ARC KSS member organisation to undertake activities aimed at developing research skills.

How long have you been in your role and what does it involve?

I have been in post for six years, the catalyst to my peer research role was the Individual Development Award (IDA). As a peer research fellow, I am developing a research programme around Peer Emotional Labour (PEL) and developing other peer researchers. I lead and act as a co-applicant on other people's research.  I advise/support researchers and potential researchers around incorporating Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) and qualitative methodology.

What made you apply for an Individual Development Award (IDA) at ARC KSS?

Ever since I joined Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT), I have been involved in other people's research, as well as developing my own research ideas. The PEL study follows my PhD project that focused on the emotional labour of involvement and recovery. This award has allowed me to continue this work. I have also benefited from other aspects of the programme (e.g. having a supportive mentor). It has really helped me to develop my confidence to develop my own research in the Approaches to Involvement and Recovery (AIR) theme.

How easy did you find the process?

There is a huge amount of work that goes into the application. It is a vigorous journey with the same processes you would expect in larger awards. It makes you really think about what you are writing, as I could have filled a lot more than the word count allowed. I also had an interview which I had not done before. It's a really good learning process having to speak with those that aren’t part of my research world.

What has this IDA enabled you to do?

The award has helped me formalise my research fellowship role and PEL research. I've really made use of my mentor which has enabled wider connecting and increased potential for joint research with clinical colleagues in Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

The IDA has allowed me to connect with other researchers across our region. I feel that I am more linked in with others and am more aware of what is going on. I have participated in research orientated activities, including presenting my work at the ARC KSS research symposium and participating in the writing retreat.  At the retreat, I worked on my PEL 2 grant and had chats with a health economist and statistician.

The IDA has given me so many opportunities, and really pushed me to share my work further.  It has enabled me to gain further funding for my research with an opportunity to present abroad at the 6th World Mental Health Conference in Barcelona in May 2024. It has also allowed me more time to develop my theoretical knowledge.

Do you think this has made an impact in your work? Who is at the receiving end of this research?

It has had an incredible impact on myself and also in SPFT. The results are informing a peer workforce development policy and, more importantly, peers have been telling us that they now have a language to explain and describe their experiences of doing their work. We have developed a common language.

Other NHS trusts are very interested in PEL. We are currently applying for funding for

PEL 2. We have four sites as part of PEL 2.

What have been the highlights of the project?

Receiving the award itself. Peer work can be quite marginalised, to have someone say that this was important, was really exciting, and great to hear. I have really loved doing the study.

What have been the challenges?

There have been a few challenges. In some ways you forget to support yourself. This has led to me being able to receive support externally, once a month, which has been really great.

Open access has been an additional cost that I have had to factor into the funding. It has been a huge task keeping within the budget as the study is fully co-produced and co-created.

What kind of support did you get?

My mentor is a Lead Allied Health Professional in CAMHS which is really helpful. I also completed the mentor training course, Mel Rees-Roberts has been a huge support.

There is a real human element to working with ARC KSS, talking to Mel has been really important.

What are your plans and ambitions for the future?

I am currently waiting on funding for PEL 2, if we are not successful we will be taking it somewhere else, as we would love to develop a conceptual framework to support peer support workers in the NHS.

We also want to look at peer support more widely.

What advice would you give someone looking to take part in research who has never done research before?

No idea is too small. I really want to encourage the idea of research being a part of everyone's agenda, we want you all to be doing research.

The ARC KSS Individual Development Awards are not  just about the funding, it's that we are seen as having potential.

What qualities do you think you need to be a good researcher?

Tenacity, thick-skin, blue sky thinker, patience, pragmatic and support of others.

Find out more about how you can add research to your career by visiting our website

Find out more the National Institute for Health and Social Care (NIHR) Shape the Future campaign here

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