The SDRC are publishing a series of blogs featuring Early Career Researchers who are sharing how COVID has impacted their research and career prospects. The first blogs in this series also featured in our COVID Research Impact Report which we published in April. Read the full COVID Research Impact Report here. 

Today’s blog is by Edel Roddy, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of the West of Scotland.

 It feels important to begin this piece with acknowledgement of the multiples losses, grief, tenacity and love that is the current reality in care homes across Scotland and the world at the moment. I work as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow/ Project Lead for a research study entitled Kinections- strengthening community in care homes.

The University of the West of Scotland, leads the study with funding from Life Changes Trust, in collaboration
with care homes across East Ayrshire. This is a participatory appreciative action research project, exploring the concept of (dementia-friendly) community in care homes. We were 2 years and 5 months into this 3-year project when lockdown began. As this is a participatory project, and it is no longer possible to physically access care homes the impact on the project has been significant. When care homes began lockdown we were days away from hosting an event to share resources developed in the project thus far on the theme of how we get to know others in our care home communities, in order that these resources could be further tested out in practice.

Multiple other strands of the project have been deferred including events with residents, focused pieces of work including research with people with advanced dementia and further data generation and co-analysis. For example, carrying out observational research with people with advanced dementia in the care home environment has been put on hold. Following a positive application and review process with Scotland A REC, we were embarking on exploring the meaning of community in care homes with members of this under-researched group of people. In order to keep open the possibility of re-gaining access to the care homes, I have been supported by the University and funders to reduce my hours over the summer months, in order that the project can be extended to December 2020. Perhaps, the biggest impact for me personally has been grappling with ways in which to be ‘useful’, as I think about the residents, staff and wider care home community members who I have such respect and fondness for. Some questions that surface for me in reflecting on being involved in research in care
homes during COVID-19:

• What new, or previously unconsidered, places can I (and other researchers) gain inspiration from as to how to approach valuating
outcomes, when COVID-19 has significantly impacted on research activity?
• In light of the experience in this project of restrictions on access to care homes, what possible options are there for re-imagining
participatory research in care homes?

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