Lockdowns don’t make research easier, and 2021 welcomed us with one. We used the opportunity to reflect and review our priorities and processes, with the aim of increasing focus and engagement in research and improving how we share our learnings more broadly. In early 2021 we implemented our renewed Research Framework, and we’ve been busy with this ever since.

By March 2021, we had received eight new research applications, and three projects were up and running, but we’re even more inspired by the themes under the figurative microscope than we are about the growth.

Dr Miles Rogish, the Consultant Clinical Psychologist at York House, has been adding to his programme of research investigating the use of a compassion focused therapy approach to staff training. The feedback from the staff participating in the programme has been very positive. Miles is now working with our Learning and Development team to extend the approach throughout the Trust, as initial results have shown that there seems to be a positive impact of this approach on both our staff and the people we support.

Our Foundation has progressed their project evaluating service user’s experiences and uses of smart home assistants in a range of settings and continued to pursue further work investigating the impact of brain injury in vulnerable populations, including people in prison, and survivors of domestic abuse.

We have also opened our “virtual” doors to enable participation in research from collaborators and external research groups, including the Safer Online Lives project, the project with the University of Surrey investigating survivor and families’ experiences after a brain injury, and a project looking at the link between intelligence and the ability to recognise emotions. All three projects are still open for participation. Anyone who is interested can find details on the linked articles or contact research@thedtgroup.org for support.

Behind the scenes, we have been working with our clinical teams to identify problems and questions that we hope to solve in the incoming years. Some examples are the use of virtual learning environments in rehabilitation, and clinical applications of the Internet of Things (IoT).

In September, we welcomed Dr Rudi Coetzer, Clinical Director, to the fold. Rudi needs no introductions in the world of research in brain injury rehabilitation, renowned clinician and researcher he is, and we have been enjoying working with him in the past few months. We’ve already made progress in some areas and have many other ideas up our sleeve. Watch this space!

In the meantime, we wish everyone a happy festive season - lockdown or no lockdown – and look forward to sharing more research updates with you in 2022!

All the best,

Sara & Sharon

Dr Sara da Silva Ramos is the Research Fellow at The Disabilities Trust, and Sharon Nuhu is an Assistant Psychologist (Outcome Measures).