This guide is designed to help prospective researchers determine whether The Disabilities Trust is likely to be able to support and host their research project. Before making enquiries or submitting a formal application to engage in research within the Trust, please consider the following:

Type of collaboration

How would you describe the support you are seeking from the Trust?

Advertising for a project

We often receive requests from researchers to advertise their study to our stakeholders, staff and service users.

At this stage we are unable to advertise any studies other than those in which the Trust is a leader or a partner on the project.

Recruiting volunteers

Please consider the time required to review and obtain approval when planning your project:

Staff:

  • Projects that seek to recruit staff as participants usually require internal review by the Trust. This may include a full research ethics review.
  • Please clearly state and justify the amount of staff’s time required in your study proposal.

Service users

  • Projects that seek to recruit service users, their family or informal carers as participants are likely to require Health Research Authority approval, ethics review by other institutions (e. g. University) and full research ethics review by The Disabilities Trust.
  • Consider the inclusion and exclusion criteria for your study and whether these are consistent with the clinical profile of people served.

Adults or children:

  • Physical disabilities: We provide support for adults with complex and high dependency needs. These specialist services support people with physical disabilities including cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, arthritis, stroke, multiple sclerosis and disabilities resulting from accidents (e. g. spinal cord injury).
  • Autism:We provide a range of specialist education, housing and support services for people with autism spectrum disorders and learning disabilities. Heathermount School provides education for children and young people aged 5-19 years old. All our other autism services are for those aged 18+. Many of the individuals we support have complex needs that might challenge alternative services.
  • Brain injury:The annual outcome reports for our adult brain injury rehabilitation services detail the demographic and clinical characteristics of the people we serve. All service users:
    • Have moderate to severe brain injury.
    • Are in the post-acute stage of recovery (median time since injury = 7 months).

Impact to service delivery:

  • All of our service users are receiving active rehabilitation or support, thus the least time taken away from participation in their programme, the better. If your study protocol requires a lot of service users’ time, it may not be feasible for us to implement it in our services.

York House Service user Patricia posing with goggles that show visual impairment

  • In addition, many of our service users may present with fatigue, lack of self-awareness or have communication difficulties. This should be considered when preparing materials and developing the study procedure. The content of the materials should take into account the stage of recovery of the potential volunteers. The risk of distress associated with approaching certain topics may be more significant in the client group you are hoping to recruit than in other populations (e. g. university students).
  • Researchers would be asked to reimburse services for any costs resulting from staff involvement, either as participants or to support service users taking part (for example, if a staff member were needed to accompany a service user throughout a study session, a replacement may be required to maintain the appropriate level of staffing).
  • If you are considering submitting an application, we encourage you to contact our research team as soon as possible. This will help you ensure that your study design is feasible to implement in our services

Funding

The Disabilities Trust is not a grant giving institution. However, if you believe your study is in line with our research programme, we may be able to contribute to a collaborative project. Please note that researchers are responsible for all extra costs incurred by the Trust from hosting a research project, such as those arising from arranging cover staff.

Other research collaborations or projects

If you have an idea that is consistent with the Disabilities Trust’s research priorities, and have taken into account this initial guidance, please email the Trust’s Research Fellow, Dr Sara da Silva Ramos, to discuss your plans.