A way of ensuring more service users are offered the opportunity to take part in high quality research has been launched by Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMW).
FAIR – Free Access to Involvement in Research – is the Trust’s innovative way of letting service users know about opportunities to take part in research that is relevant to them. The FAIR scheme was originally launched in December 2011 and this year has had two new phases developed to improve its accessibility.
Dr Paul French, GMW’s Associate Director for Early Intervention (pictured right), has led the setting-up of the project. He said: “As a Trust we need to develop mental health services that are based on the best available evidence, which research helps us to do. We think people should have the choice to take part in research that is suitable for them and FAIR is helping us to offer this choice. It is a system where patients give their consent to be approached in the future about research that may be suitable for them.
“The feedback we’ve had so far from both staff and service user groups has been very enthusiastic. The FAIR scheme helps to free up the time of staff as Care Co-ordinators are only asked about clients who have already expressed interest in hearing about research. Service users see it as their right to be told about any research going on which might be suitable for them. This gives service users the opportunity to decide whether they want to be involved in research.”
Since the scheme's implementation, more than 800 GMW service-users have joined it; and this continues to grow on a monthly basis. At the start of 2013, the Trust launched a publicity campaign which included the distribution of leaflets and posters containing the logo (pictured). The leaflet encompasses a tear off ‘Interested in Research’ postcard which can be completed to join FAIR. As of July 2013 a form was created on the Trust’s website to allow GMW service-users to join FAIR online.
How FAIR Works
FAIR is based on a consent-for-approach model. If the service-user agrees to join FAIR then a note is made in their client record and they are informed by the Trust when a research project may be relevant for them. As with all personal information stored by GMW, access to the data is covered by strict governance and data protection rules. Service-users are asked whether they would like to hear about research at their care plan review and can opt out of the system at any time.
When a high quality research project has been approved researchers can ask the GMW Research Office to let relevant clients know about it. If the client is interested in hearing more about the project then it is up to them to contact the researcher. Researchers do not have access to any client information unless clients agree.
How to Join FAIR
Service-users at GMW have three ways in which they are able to join FAIR:
- They are asked at their care plan review if they would like to hear about future opportunities to take part in research
- They can complete an ‘Interested in Research’ postcard which is available on the last page of the FAIR Leaflet
- They can now simply fill in an online form on the Trust's website
Dr French added: “As an NHS Trust we are expected to do all we can to ensure our service-users are made aware of research that is relevant to them. Of course this has to be balanced with patient confidentiality and FAIR helps us to achieve this whilst ensuring that patient confidentiality is maintained.”
Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust provides integrated mental health and social care services to the 700,000 people living in the Bolton, Salford and Trafford local authority boundaries and a range of specialist and secure mental health services across Greater Manchester, the North West and beyond.
For more information, please contact the Research & Development Office to discuss the FAIR process by calling 0161 772 9234 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.