Learning from COVID-19 pandemic with innovative nursing research

The role of nurses in research that has helped to combat COVID-19 was in the spotlight at a prestigious event hosted by the University of Huddersfield’s School of Human and Health Sciences.

Nurses have played a key role to stop the spread of the virus and minimise its impact on individuals, families and communities, whilst continuing to deliver safe, high quality health and care services.

Perhaps less well known is that nurses have also been conducting an array of important research in relation to COVID-19 to learn as much as possible from the pandemic.

NHS England’s national nursing research team has curated and collated this research to compile an extensive nursing research portfolio. From this, four leading studies were chosen by the Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England, Ruth May, and showcased at the official launch of the online collection of nursing research.

The event was hosted by the University of Huddersfield in partnership with NHS England and chaired by Professor Nick Hardiker, the Associate Dean for Research & Enterprise within the School of Human and Health Sciences. It also helped to share knowledge and increase understanding of the important research being undertaken by the nursing community, to take pride in the quality and impact of that research, and inspire others to become involved as nurse researchers and research leaders.

The event commenced with a message of gratitude from Ruth May who highlighted the significance of the work undertaken by nurses, midwives and care professionals from across the globe over the last 15 months.

Although it has been a hard year, she believed it was also one people could be proud of as everyone has witnessed the expertise and experience nurses had given response to the coronavirus.

 ”I would like to conclude by saying thank you individually and collectively for the work that you have all done over these last 15 months and which I know you will be going on to do into the future.”

 Nursing research excellence

Launching the showcase with their research was the University’s Professor Ann-Louise Caress who has been exploring the experiences of people shielding due to COVID-19 and how this has affected the lives and well-being of the ‘shielded’ individuals and their families. 

The coronavirus in close up

During the initial stages of the pandemic, some 2.25 million people in the UK were identified as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ to COVID-19 and therefore advised to shield, with this number recently expanded. Professor Caress’ research has studied the impact of the stringent social isolation and home hygiene measures required of those shielding for a prolonged period.

Professor Caress, who is also the Director of the University’s Centre for Applied Research in Health, says early findings from the research emphasise the need for timely and tailored information and support. They highlight daily living and healthcare service usage challenges, as well as unmet support needs and consider ‘exit strategy’ plans. Findings have been shared with patient organisations/charities, local authorities and policy-makers.

An appraisal of COVID-19 contact tracing technology in care homes followed which has been the focus of a research project headed by Professor Carl Thompson from the University of Leeds. 

The penultimate item on the showcase agenda featured a presentation by Professor David Richards from the University of Exeter on evaluating guidelines for the nursing care of hospital patients with COVID-19.

An image from the webinar Teams call

A study investigating the impact of nurse redeployment during COVID-19 carried out by Professor Rebecca Lawton from the University of Leeds was the final item of research highlighting the nursing research excellence featured by the Chief Nursing Officer’s COVID-19 Nursing Research Portfolio.

Throughout the showcase the researchers shared and analysed the early findings from their ongoing work to stimulate discussions on the implications for practice, service delivery, education, workforce development and well-being, and patient experience. 

The COVID-19 research portfolio

NHS England’s national nursing research team said its research portfolio was now available to read online and provided an important resource demonstrating what can be achieved through nurse leadership in research.

“We are delighted to share these examples of research being led by nurses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said research team members Professor Alison Richardson, Head of Nursing Research – Academic Leadership & Strategy; and Dr Joanne Cooper (PhD, RN), Head of Nursing Research – Research Transformation, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

“Whilst not an exhaustive list, the portfolio demonstrates the outstanding research leadership of nurses during this time, encompassing breadth and depth, producing evidence that can be drawn on to inform practice and policy as we move forward.

“Thank you to all who have taken time to submit and support entries to the portfolio, we look forward to hearing more about the study outcomes over the forthcoming months,” they added.

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