Background Due to medical advances, the population of care homes is becoming increasingly frail, often with co-morbidities. Recent innovations have seen paramedics take on non-emergency roles within or supporting care homes. This workforce innovation requires urgent evaluation, taking account of the multiple perspectives at stake. Research is more relevant, feasible and accountable if those who commission, deliver and use healthcare services are able to input their professional and personal insights.
Method We conducted a stakeholder event as part of research development work for paramedics working in care homes (PERCH: Preliminary Exploration of paramedic Roles in Care Homes). We invited representatives from care homes, including Enabling Research in Care Homes (ENRICH) network members, ambulance services, primary and secondary care, patient/resident and public members, and the research community. To inform discussion, we presented examples of paramedics working in care homes. We then facilitated small-group discussions about how to evaluate such innovations and recorded views on sticky notes and flipcharts.
Results 23 people attended the event. Clarity of roles and communication processes were considered important to implement the pilot project. Attendees agreed that research outcome measures should include changes in avoidable hospital admissions, emergency department attendances and 999 calls plus staff, patient and family satisfaction. They identified some potential benefits to ambulance services and general practice, such as time saved for other patients, but believed these could be difficult to measure.
Discussion Gaining the insights of a wide range of stakeholders prior to research being designed is an important, but under-utilised approach in research development. People who deliver and receive community-based care have insight derived from personal and professional experience which complements research expertise. Research in care home settings is challenging, and insights from stakeholders were significant in the development of a research proposal about the role of paramedics in care homes (PERCH study). We submitted this to the Health and Care Research Wales Research for Public and Patient Benefit funding scheme in 2019.
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