So Friday was Friday 13th …….. would it be an unlucky day for our project looking for ethics approval?
I’ve never seen what goes on at an ethics board meeting before. So many researchers fear them and they often seem to over protect or underestimate people with dementia, so I was expecting an interesting experience…….research studies have to receive ethics approval to make sure those taking part are safe.
It had started off a sunny day but the grey skies soon descended and fitted my mood for the day….no matter what you thought of the result of the election, we mustn’t let it divide the country. People made their mind up for whatever reason they thought best & now we have to stop all the divisions and hatred that exists. Sadly I can’t feel anger anymore or I’d be ranting and raging, all I can do is let my eyes leak ‘til they’re empty……and so I was glad I had something to fill the space on Friday, but knew that if the panel upset me, I’d just cry and that might or might not work in my favour! 🙄
The taxi driver was a smiley soul but we trundled to the station in silence, conversation all spent for the day. The first train to Hull was on time and I got my cuppa tea before the train to Leeds, which was delayed of course…..
The sky was undecided as we trundle past the Humber…
The train was crowed with festive fun as people with suitcases struggled to find a spot for them to rest and groups raucously brought out clinks of booze and food for the journey …..and exchanged terrible jokes 🙈 as this was a lunch time trundle so very different passengers travelling alongside ….the volume of noise too much for me to decipher punchlines or conversations so I looked out of the window and went into my own world instead…..the peaking sun hiding the torrential rain falling in the distance
We were meeting the committee in the Queens Hotel, next to the station in Leeds and Mark Wilberforce and Louise Newbould, from York Uni we’re meeting me there for lunch ahead of the time so we could talk tactics 🙄. Their project is called HOPES – Helping older people to engage with social care….it’s looking at people with dementia but also people with mental health needs….it’s a really big issue that we don’t address at the mo.
NHS committees are used to to medical trials and medical trials can cause a lot of harm so they tend to be cautious but they are getting used to more qualitative social research than previously. They used to medical researchers ‘Doing’ things to people, so now they’re having to understand risk in a different way. Ethics committees are all about interpreting harm very widely so e.g in our sort of project over probing questions, or overlong interviews……
Ethics committees are volunteers so only get expenses which surprised me hugely….the fact that there’s 3 of us turned up shows we’re keen on ethics…..I promised Mark, I would be polite and wouldn’t mention the fact that I just wanted to see what they were up to 🤣😂
It was mine and Louises first ethics committee….Louise very nervous, me very excited 🤣
In the first part of our study we want to talk to people with dementia and those with a mental illness who were having trouble with care visits into the home and accepting they need help and the reasons why they might refuse help. So having trouble receiving it and accepting it…. Sometimes Home Care staff will dismiss people who reject home help due to the circumstances at the time – it’s easier to move onto the next person, such is the restraints on their time. They may be rushed, the care staff may not know how to interact or how to cope with the situation…..how can we train staff better to understand how to perform Home Care?.
The biggest thing I learnt was we can’t control the venue where ethics decide to hold the meetings. The Queens hotel was a real challenge for me with crazy flooring once more, mirrored lifts and little signage so our able enablers really need to help us with those difficulties. I should have taken piccies to show but I was concentrating on getting from A to B 😳. There was also noise coming from every direction, with Christmas parties and people walking past so hard not to get distracted…
After lunch we headed up to sit outside the Headmasters office (that’s really what it felt like 😂)and just wait to be called……Mark and Louise were nervous, but then all researchers are nervous of ethics, especially NHS ethics…..Mark whipped a tie out to look the part……the research is their baby and timelines are tight, so ethics delays can make or break their project.
We chatted to the 2 chappies also waiting but thankfully their appointment was for 3pm and ours 2.30. They were researching medication in children’s hospitals and the processes…….and were from Manchester ……so had a longer journey than us………it was nice chatting to different researchers in a different field and it turned out Louise knew one of them as her and Mark had both worked at Manchester …..small world syndrome……
The committe were running very late but a very smiley friendly room greeted us.
I asked at the beginning if they would mind if I typed……and explained why, with the help of Mark.
We introduced ourselves. There were loads of them, probably 10 or 12, which surprised me and the room felt very cramped and full – good job they had smiley faces. One of them was the Chair and another one was in charge of asking us questions.
They started by saying how they loved our application, how they were please I’d attended and that Mark and Louise had involved me, Maria Helena, who also has later dementia and her husband David.
They asked me the first question 😱about the length of the questionnaire, which took me by surprise as I wasn’t expecting any questions to be directed at me, but that was a nice surprise.……our questionaire is due to take an hour. They asked if this was too long for people with dementia. I said how flexibility will be key, how each individual is different; how the individuals capacity and the type of day we’re having would influence the process. I turned to Mark, hoping that was the right answer, as I think them asking me took us all by surprise!!
They involved me in the questioning so much which surprised me hugely. But it meant I had to stop typing to concentrate in case they snuck another one in 🙄😳…..we were finished in record time apparently as they only had 3 or 4 questions and it meant that Mark, at the end, told me to mention Dementia Enquirers 😇….and how people with dementia could well be in the hot seat up and down the country and I would feed back about their smiley faces…….
We were all very happy and very pleased when we came out. It was a happy end to the week but then, needless to say, it went downhill as I entered Leeds station…..my train was delayed and then in the blink of an eye, it was cancelled 🙈……we were told to go to Selby and wait for a connection there. The train we were sent to had just 2 carriages and was one of the oldest trains on the planet and was rammed like sardines when I got there. I squeezed on and a smiley face allowed me to have his seat. More sardines arrived and just squashed onto the train even more.
Once we got to Selby, there were more delays, another sardine train arrived and we joined the squash on that one. Another smiley face gave up their seat for me, so very grateful for those people. A Twitter pal posted this on Twitter to me…very apt with the travel trauma I’ve had lately…
I finally arrived home, very tired after a roller coaster of emotions day………tomorrow’s another day and me thinks a chilled weekend is in order………but a great introduction to the world of ethics committees …..