Our new normal; still your RDS

I’m not entirely sure how to start this blog post. The global situation – the vast and far-reaching changes to our way of life – are almost inconceivable. Trying to find a way forward in the midst of all this uncertainty and change is difficult. I am very fortunate that, thus far, my family and friends remain safe and well. I am also so very thankful for the wonderful care and support of everyone in the NHS, health and social care, education, social services and a whole host of other vital services that are the very bedrock of our society.

Like many of my colleagues in the NIHR, I am now working from home. There is plenty of valuable advice and support available about how to do this successfully and we are all trying to get into a new routine in which we can all do our jobs. One of first things we implemented here at the Research Design Service in Sussex is a regular virtual coffee morning at 10.30 everyday for whomever is around and free at that time. I am already finding it a much-anticipated part of my morning routine!

We are a few weeks in now and I can say with certainty that the Research Design Service South East is very much still open for business. We have almost seamlessly transitioned from a face-to-face service – visiting researchers in person to discuss their research plans and offer methodological expertise – to an online consultation service. I am becoming adept at various software packages and teleconferencing services and find that these media take very little away from the relationships I am able to form with researchers and nothing from the quality of advice I am able to provide. Our group consultations and review panels are likewise just as effective over telephone, Zoom, Skype or Google Hangout as they are in person. We are even holding our first online webinar shortly – a resource I think will be a valuable addition to the range of support we offer researchers.

If this crisis has taught us anything, it is about the vital and life-saving importance of research. Science and the evidence it provides drives effective care; designing and conducting robust research is what allows for the development and implementation of evidence-based interventions that are crucial assets in any clinician or practitioners tool box.

The NIHR sits at the very forefront of applied health and social care research and now, as always, it reacts swiftly to issue funding calls to support projects that address topics of national priority. NIHR and UK Research and Innovation have already funded a £20 million coronavirus research rapid response initiative into active intervention development and diagnosing & understanding coronavirus which will hopefully deliver much needed evidence to fight this pandemic. We at the Research Design Service remain an important part of this process – offering our free and confidential methodological advice and support to health and social care researchers from across the NHS, social care and public health, academia and industry.

Do please reach out and let us help you, now and in the future. We remain your RDS.


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