All entries for August 2011

August 30, 2011

Starting out on the right track

But which is the right track?

I'm planning to meet two key people; the first two of (hopefully) many stakeholders in this pilot research. I hope to approach this meeting, just like this research project; in a spirit of true collaboration. For that reason, I don't intend to arrive with too many inflexible expectations.

Nevertheless, having turned up at enough meetings myself, where the person who actually called the meeting has no clear idea of what they would like to achieve/discuss, I'd better collect together at least some thoughts.....

Some possibilities?

The first entry in this blog explains the main aims of this project, but I have, as yet, avoided committing too much detail to paper. Things can still remain flexible, but I think it's time to make some suggestions.....

  • The ethics: as explained in my last entry - this will be difficult. But I hope we can achieve an approach that is genuinely ethical
  • The space: we've got an excellent, adaptable, theatre space to work with. The reactions of the people in this space can help us to use this space in a way that is physically comfortable and conducive to good communication. In this way, everyone can help to design the learning experience.
  • The people: People should be enabled to opt in and out of this experience as we go along. It is intended for this experience to be positive in itself - and freedom is an inherent part of this. Hopefully keen people will produce some good results!
  • The experience: The use of art, primarily theatre, as communication tool seems appropriate here. The possibilities which might arise through mirroring and interpreting different kinds of communication, are tempting. The emphasis should, at all times, be on listening to the experiences of the non-verbal citizens.

I realise that's a lot of potential variables, and so the one thing I'm certain of, is that this very qualitative piece of research, may produce more questions than answers. However, if we can draw some learning in any of these areas, we will have experienced some success.

Any suggestions, as always, very gratefully received!

August 16, 2011

The chicken and the egg

Understanding ethics without words

Completing this project in an ethical manner could be tricky. We want to involve people who find complex ideas very difficult to understand, and even more difficult to communicate. This makes it difficult for them to share their ideas and experiences in a way that people will understand. I need to be really creative - and hope that the good people at IATL Warwick will help with this!

true participation - the chicken and the egg

In order for the citizens in this activity to be truly directive, we would like to involve them from the start - right now. But we will need approval for the ethics of our plan, and we will need consent, in many cases, from the familes of the individuals to be involved. We hope that we can gain approval for the particiapnts to be involved without too rigid a set of rules developing, which might constrain our work together further down the line. You can't get involvement without ethics approval (for very good reasons) but without the involvment of people, should one really be allowed ethics approval?

true consent - check, check and check again

True consent cannot be sought unless the person consenting to an event has a good idea of what might happen. Given that no-one yet knows what the outcome of this learning experience might be, it could be difficult to gain this consent. For some of the people I hope to involve, a relative who can understand complex concepts more easily will give consent on their behalf. This is important, as people who know an individual are best placed to make decisions in their best interest. However, we hope that this can be an empowering experience as well as a useful one. By endeavouring to make the experience of this experiment pleasurable in itself, and ensuring that people who are in discomfort can remove themselves as they wish, we hope that people's consent can be sought throughout the sessions, through non-verbal means.

This is an attempt to start as we mean to go on!

August 08, 2011

Getting started

What's this research all about?

The experiences of patients, service users and customers are key in educating the next generation of health and social care professionals. Accordingly, the input of ‘expert patients’ is included in the student experience at higher education institutions. This ‘Service User involvement’ is clearly a step in the right direction, but can be criticised for:

Tokenism- People are ‘brought in’ to deliver an account of their experience within the narrow terms of the professionals; this can preclude an equal partnership

Narrow Representation- It can be difficult for people to share their experiences. There are a number of obstacles preventing a fair and frank exchange of ideas. Often the bravest and most articulate provide the only customer feedback, resulting in a less than balanced knowledge base for students.

This project is designed to enable the non-verbal to find a way of sharing their thoughts, feelings and experience of services. It seeks to redress the power imbalance and, in turn, improve the education of pre-qualification professionals.

What's the plan?

The plan (as far as there is one at the moment!) is to harness the enthusiasm of some willing volunteers. We will collect together some keen students from the fields of health, education and social care along with some citizens with learning disabilities who use non-verbal communication as a primary tool, mix in some innovative theatre practitioners and analyse the interactions that come about. We have agreement to use a great theatre space and access to some helpful gadgetry and technology. We are not sure what will come about, but feel sure that the people involved will take the opportunity to learn from each other. In turn, we hope to learn from the experience and identify some teaching methods that can be replicated both here at Warwick, and further afield.

Can I get involved?

Absolutely! If this project interests you, or you have any ideas you would like to contribute - your comments would be very welcome - or drop me an e-mail. Thanks for reading my very first blog entry!

August 2011

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