Sussex Partnership research conference

This was the Trust’s third R&D conference, a reflection of the key role research now plays in NHS activity and how recent this incorporation has been. Clinicians have always undertaken research and development, whether in response to highly focused problem solving for a specific issue or as a more speculative process out of which something entirely original was born. The difference now is that, rather than working alone with no formal structures by which to network for new skills and ideas, we are increasingly able to access the vast resources of university colleagues and they, in turn, are able to bring their theoretical understanding into clinical application.

Yesterday we heard from a speaker whose years of research into anxiety had nowhere to go because he was unable to access a clinical population. Links with our Trust have led to the formation of a highly productive group of clinicians and academics with an interest in the causes, mechanisms, and management of  the anxiety disorders that debilitate so many people.

There are now several groups like this and, with two universities on our doorstep ( facing each other across the A27 as it happens!), there is no shortage of intellectual and applied clinical thinking that can be brought to bear on psychological and bio-social problems. Dementia for instance. One of the Trust’s research themes is tackling aging and dementia but, until yesterday, people with learning disabilities had not been part of this. Once raised, lights went on around the room and the talk turned to assisted living, healthy aging, and technological support for anyone with dependency problems. Through this, we unearthed interest groups on each side of the road that had been unaware of each other and a productive liason seems likely.

Individuals too became innervated by the day’s focus and new ideas were tentatively put forward as possible projects. Some of those have very definite legs and will be followed up so watch this space! It seems that putting people in an enviroment where ideas and speculation are at the core of everyone’s thinking provides not just the inspiration to think creatively oneself but has the emergent effect of triggering that thinking without explicit reference.

And yes, I gave my presentation too. Not, as I’d thought, just before the main act but at the end when people are dazed and wondering how much more they can take in. Luckily, my talk was light on cogitation and heavy on entertainment, and the picture of the plate of raw liver seemed to engage the attention of anyone who’d drifted off!

So that’s that for another year. Next week it’s the staff awards when it appears that all the members of the research team have pretty much nominated each other! Well, we’re getting fed and given license to boogie so that will do me nicely. Dub, anyone?

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