Yesterday I was at the University College London with 4 other colleagues from Join Dementia Research. Piers Kotting, Programme Director, had been asked to speak about the successes of Join Dementia Research to a group of Academic Health Science Networks Involvement Leads..(bit of a mouthful!)
Piers is very good at thinking up new ways of doing things and yesterday was no exception. He had the wonderful idea of the 5 of us ‘having a conversation’. Instead of the usual death by PowerPoint we used ‘the goldfish bowl’ method! We joined them for lunch first and could see their hesitancy on why we were there but they didn’t know what was coming:)
Our 5 chairs were arranged in a circle in the middle of the room. In a larger circle around us sat the audience. Our 5 consisted of Piers, Andrew(project officer), Shirley(former carer) and the wonderful Susie Hewer (marathon runner extraordinaire and former carer)) and me. We started off the conversation around patient participation and Piers included us in such a way by introduction to us all. He led the conversation and steered it round as and when required. Once we got into the flow of conversation, Andrew left his seat and this allowed anyone from the audience to sit in the empty chair and join in our conversation. Once they’d had their question answered they left for someone else to replace them. Piers and Andrew kept leaving their seats and people were queuing up to take their place! It was a wonderful way to get people involved in the discussion. Rather than just talk to the audience we allowed the audience to contribute and ask questions by joining in our conversation.
It went remarkably well and they all said what a wonderful way to find out about a topic. We had to bring it to an end but it could have gone on for hours! What we were really doing was discussing new ways of getting people involved in research in general and how to reach out to the public more. We sold the Join Dementia Research database and spoke about the benefits of empowering people to get involved via the database – our ultimate goal
My comment was that the word ‘research’ often brought about the wrong perception in the publics eye as they often associated research with being ‘guinea pigs’ thus creating a negative perception, whereas if we used the word ‘involvement’ people would see the whole spectrum of research and not just clinical trials. I’m sure that more people would become involved in research if they had a better understanding of the process and wider areas of research and opportunities for patient involvement and even more so if it became a natural part of the diagnosis process.
Piers had an email afterwards from the organiser saying:
That was brilliant and people raved about it afterwards.
Another worthwhile outing:))