Our Projects

Below are details of some recent projects undertaken by the team.  Together they illustrate the breadth and depth of our experience in applied research and evaluation.

Carers UK
A Road Less Rocky; Supporting Carers of People with Dementia
In May 2012, Carers Trust commissioned Firefly and SPRU at the University of York, to undertake research to understand more about the caring ‘journey’ undertaken by carers of people with dementia and the challenges they face, from initial concerns that there may be something wrong through to experiences at the end of life. Firefly undertook a literature review and national survey of carers who were supporting someone living with dementia, and designed a ‘timeline framework’ based on emergent themes. This framework then enabled the research team to explore the experiences of individuals in a detailed and creative way, ‘mapping’ them onto a timeline together with the carer. Findings were shared and tested with wider groups of carers, resulting in a report which takes the reader through the caring ‘journey’, and highlights key stress points.

The research covered the four UK nations and the final report has been enthusiastically received by carers, carer organisations and policy makers, including Dementia Action Alliance, who we would like to thank for permission to include the cartoon below.  The cartoon was drawn by Tony Husband for his book ‘Take care, son’.

Road less rocky cartoon

The Health Foundation
Evaluation of Co-creating Health 2

The Health Foundation has published Firefly Research’s evaluation of the second phase of our Co-creating Health improvement programme. It finds that delivering, sustaining and spreading self-management support is challenging but possible and its rewards can be immensely rich.

The Co-creating Health model incorporates self-management training for people with long-term conditions, training in self-management support skills for clinicians, and a service improvement programme to support patients and clinicians in their self-management activities. The Co-creating Health programme tested how to embed and sustain this model in primary and secondary care settings across a range of long-term conditions.

The evaluation provides valuable insight into how to sustain changes in clinical practice to more effectively support people with long-term conditions. It concludes that there needs to be a strategic and whole-system approach to implementing self-management support.

Co-creating Health offers an approach to delivering this change. It is a theoretically robust, well-evaluated model with tried and tested training, techniques and tools that can have a profound and positive effect on patients, clinicians and health services.

Department of Health Sciences at the University of York.
Acupuncture, Counselling and Usual Care for Depression (ACUDep) Trial: Exploring the Experiences of Acupuncturists, Counsellors and General Practitioners in treating depression

For this project the Firefly team worked with colleagues from the ACUDep research trial, undertaken by the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York. The trial aimed to determine how effective short courses of acupuncture or counselling might be for treating depression when used as an addition to usual GP care. Firefly’s role was focused on a sub-study which explored the experiences of acupuncturists, counsellors and GPs in delivering the trial intervention to patients with depression, to guide the development of future trials for depression and to identify implications for health policy.
This qualitative sub-study of practitioners (acupuncturists and counsellors) was embedded in the main study, which took the form of a randomised controlled trial. As well as contributing to the design of the sub-study, the Firefly researchers undertook the fieldwork and analysis, collecting data from telephone interviews and a focus group. Data were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic content analysis. The results of the trial have been published in PlosOne.

The Centre for Reviews and Dissemination: Evaluation of databases – CRD had  rebuilt its databases and changed the interface which users use to access them. Feedback from those using the databases has been generally good but CRD were conscious that there was scope for further improvement, particularly in relation to how people search and find information on the databases. They were particularly keen to understand in more depth what the target audiences of NHS professionals and managers would find helpful. Firefly interviewed both registered and non-registered users of the databases to gather their views.

Evaluation of the Department of Health £20 million grant to Thalidomide impaired people

In April 2010, the Departments of Health in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland made a grant of £26 million to Thalidomide-impaired people to help them address the exceptional health and health-related needs they experience.  The Thalidomide Trust asked Firefly to carry out a three year evaluation of the grant to provide evidence of the impact of the grant on the health and well-being of individual Thalidomiders, and to assess how the grant enabled individual Thalidomiders to reduce future health needs. We worked with a group of 60 Thalidomide-impaired people across the UK to explore their experience in depth, as well as linking with wider work being carried out by the Thalidomide Trust National Advisory Committee on the costs of living with Thalidomide impairment.

The University of York Support Matters study – The research was led by Dr Karen Spilsbury from the Department of Health Sciences and explored the role of Community Nursing Assistants in the delivery of adult community health services. Members of the Firefly team supported colleagues from the University in the conduct of the fieldwork. For more information about the project go to www.york.ac.uk/healthsciences/research-information/support-matters/

NHS North West Assistant Practitioners and Administration of Medicines scoping study – The overall aim of the study was to explore current practice (across the North West) in the involvement of Assistant Practitioners in the administration of medicines. It involved a brief examination of recent research and policy literature; a survey of all NHS organisations in the North West which employ Assistant Practitioners; and the development of two detailed case studies. Findings were published in Autumn 2011.