The enchanted forest? The nature and topics of collaborative research Sent (n=71) Researching our own processes through 5 taped reflective conversations
Fairytale One Building good relationships Getting to know each other Exploring relationship and research process Analysing reflective conversations Feelings of being valued and respected. “We are learning so much from each other” 30 projects from survey
Types of Projects 7 evaluation of services 7 evaluation & user involvement in education/training 3 users’ views/experiences of services/treatment 6 user involvement (in service provision & research 7 ‘other’ We knew little of their experiences…from our own, we were aware of..
Pitfalls and dangers TIME factors - Julia and Alice’s anxieties about pace Lack of skills (IT and research) Alice only working one day a week -huge “intellectual effort” Organisational issues – researcher left
…and it blew down… It was built on comfy things…. Relationship with 1 st researcher And when that researcher left Weak support strategy Insufficient focus on ‘tasks’ Hidden anxieties
Fairytale Two (there was light..) Alice becoming more confident and skilled Presenting at conferences We had a plan with a lovely gantt chart(!) Building a network of other user researchers Finding new bond
But there was also… Lack of support for Alice No steering group Intense relationship ‘Lone rider syndrome’ Becoming unwell, illness. Other factors at RCN Waiting to be rescued – where’s the white knight? Sometimes lack of clarity for Alice. “What do I do next?” “It’s such intellectual effort” for Alice
Was this the castle? New researcher…a Professor! 2 nd postal survey designed and sent Not a lot of information – 7 returns Developed interview schedules for professional & service user researchers But then…
Yes, you’ve guessed it… The new Professor left for ventures new!
The ‘collab’ castle Was this a dream? Would we ever get there? Did we know the path to take? Where was the enchanted forest – and how enchanting was it going to be? We talked to the two project sites:
Key Issues and Quotes… A voyage of discovery I found it very engaging We wanted to change attitudes eg student nurses I wanted to evolve practice To give the users voice I started with trepidation A huge personal investment Very moving experience and felt privileged Users great humour, intelligence and skills
…….. Difficulties with powerless student nurses Difficulties with very vocal user ‘axe to grind’ Not wanting to bring up old wounds Respectful heated debates Power of the researcher Openness Exceeded expectations Equal, values partners and team members Need for more time? – going off the boil? Planning before research starts Issues with ethics
And again……… We ‘failed’ to learn our own lessons We doubted our journey together We forgot we were on a journey How do we ‘get heard’ within this collaborative relationship? The wolf was at the door……….
Where would our story ever end?.... We created some space…for ‘love’ and ‘courage’ We ‘clapped our hands’…. We honoured our own story We are honouring our ‘together’ story…
A fairy godmother reminded us…. We had to find our own strengths We had to be honest We had to struggle through We drew inspiration from a shared purpose We drew strength from our passion & humour
And to re-visit our own discoveries… “it just shows how espoused values are so much more difficult to live out!” (AJ reflections) Some key messages: Relationship building Shared values, purpose and ‘newness’ Accommodating ‘difference’ Coming from different viewpoints New learning and insights
That it is a journey…beginnings, middles and endings Messy, uncertain and not straight path Complex, challenging with extra sensitivities & dilemmas Ever changing roles, personnel, agendas, levels of support Personal investment, commitment, belief in the purpose, trusting the process isn’t easy to do ‘Role strain’ needs to be addressed properly
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