Friday, May 1, 2015

The Goldfish Bowl

It's a new type of group discussion/presentation format I took part in the other day. Sounds a bit fishy doesn't it (pun intended!).

First I've just got a few photos from the London Expo last week:

Preparing to go on-stage

Talking about what I had to do for the GWR. It was such a big stage in a massive space!

Explaining why I chose  to use crochet to explain how dementia affects the brain

Doing a sales pitch for Join dementia research to explain why it's so important

Disentangling the headset for the next interview!

So I'm all up to date with the London marathon so back to the fishy tale. Before I start I must announce that we've got a new camera and guess what? The old one started working again. That's Sod's Law in action for sure. I knew that would happen as it's been misbehaving for quite some time now but it's so unreliable that I'm glad we splurged on a new one.

As always, my journey begins at the small railway station  a few miles from home. Being a creature of habit my first port of call, after I'd bought my ticket, was the Bistro@the station for a coffee. It's lovely to have this little cafe at the station and it's become an important part of the village (which is expanding rapidly with a development of new houses). I managed to resist the pain au chocolat and the brownies. It was so nice and bright that I took my coffee outside to take some shots with the new camera.

There's a Tulip Festival going on in a local garden at Pashley Manor and they'd planted all the boxes with tulips to advertise their event.

I was struck by all the different coloured lines heading off to the vanishing point.

I was taking a photo of the tarmac (no comments please!) when I noticed my shadow - hair up

Hair down

Playing with the zoom feature which is much more powerful than the old camera

Mrs Rook with her beautiful twiggy nest

Cityscape skyline approaching London Bridge

The top of the Walkie Talkie building showing the lightning poles

This time the train journey was uneventful and I arrived in plenty of time for a leisurely walk through some old haunts. I was heading to UCL which is a 25 minute walk. I could have caught the Tube but as everyone knows, I hate the Tube and would rather walk for 25 minutes than spend 5 minutes travelling on it.

I always stop and look at this statue of Edith Cavell whose selfless acts saved so many lives in World War One.

Her words resonate today.

I was saddened to see this beautiful garden was only open to residents. It reminded me of that scene in Notting Hill where Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts climb over the fence to look inside. Open spaces such as that are the lungs of the city and provide a quiet place for contemplation and I wondered how many local residents actually use it.

I managed to zoom in on the bark of one of the beautiful London Plane trees.

This ornate verandah looks as if it's hanging on the building like the cradles used by window cleaners on skyscrapers!

So many different patterns over this doorway

The blues and greens in this display were so intense - I haven't enhanced the colours at all.

Of course I arrived far too early but that wasn't a problem as there's a rather good Waterstones bookshop right opposite the entrance so I went and lost myself in there for a while. Eventually I dragged myself away and headed into the University to meet up with everyone.

When it was our turn to speak we found the right plaice (couldn't resist the opportunity for another pun!). The 'Goldfish bowl' was a concept new to all of us and Piers wanted to see if it would work within the context of the  NIHR PPI initiative which encourages people to get involved in matters of health and social care.

There were 2 parts to it; a focus group sitting in the centre and other participants from the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) sitting around us on the outside (see below).

The 5 of us in the focus group were; Piers Kotting (Programme Director National Institute of Health Research), Andrew Rutherford (Dementias and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network), Shirley Nurock & Wendy Mitchell (both Ambassadors for the Alzheimer's Society) and me.

Piers heading for the buffet

Andrew holding court with the ladies

Wendy and I had done the buffet and moved onto coffee!

Now for the Goldfish Bowl! 

In the photo below you can see the chairs being set out. The pink chairs, for the 5 of us in the focus group, are positioned in a small circle and the blue chairs, for the other particpants, are placed in a circle around the outside (I said it was like cowboys and Indians!).

That's Shirley, 2nd from the right watching the inner circle being set up.

To start with, Piers and Andrew joined us in the inner circle. Piers started by saying a bit about what was going to happen which was basically me, Wendy and Shirley having a conversation about our involvement in research, more specifically Join dementia research. Whilst we chatted, if anyone had a question then they could come and sit within the group and either Andrew, Piers or both of them would leave and join the outer circle.

We three all became involved in JDR at different stages and so Piers asked us each to explain briefly how and why we got involved:

  • Shirley's late husband had early-onset Alzheimer's 25 years ago in his 50s and she joined the Alzheimer's Society and has been involved in setting up their Research Network. She was involved in the early stages of JDR.
  • Me. I was involved in JDR right from the start until the launch and am a Lay Champion for them.
  • Wendy, who has made several appearances on my blog, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's last July and has turned into a fantastic ambassador for research.

Then we literally just started chatting about anything to do with research, obstacles to getting involved, why it's so important, lack of information etc etc. It was almost like when Wendy and I chatted about things before the JDR launch - no script, just a natural flow of thoughts, bouncing off each other's input. We had no idea exactly where the conversation would go or if anyone would come and join the group, but they did!

I saw someone approach the group and Andrew got up and went to sit in the outer circle and it just progressed from there with people coming and joining us to ask a question and then leaving when it had been answered. Several people came to join us before we ran out of time and I suspect more people would have become involved if time had allowed.

Afterwards, before we left, everyone said how much they'd enjoyed it and that they'd got a lot out of it. The organiser said they all raved about it later which is encouraging. 

Piers felt that we achieved our objectives and got across a decent amount about how PPI has impacted on JDR. What we hope to achieve from this experiment is that the AHSNs work together with the Lay Champions to make JDR a part of NHS practice (apologies for the acronyms!).

It was certainly good fun from our point of view and it was great to hear that it was well received by the particpants. 

I had a couple of comments and Shirley raised another:

  1. I found it strange to have my back to people sitting in the outer circle behind me. Piers said he felt that too but the idea was not to be addressing the outer circle, it was about focusing on the inner dialogue, which made sense.
  2. People seemed to like the idea of physically joining the group when they wanted to speak. perhaps it felt less intimidating to come and be 'inside' the conversation rather than putting their hand up with a question? Whatever the reason, it seemed to work.
  3. Shirley said she was unsure whether we should stop talking when someone came to join the group as it can be hard to get a word in edgeways when we are all in full flow! I felt that people did manage to break in  but they just had to wait for the right moment. Piers thought the only way round it would be to have a facilitator stay in the group but I think that would have affected the dynamic as they might stifle the natural flow of things?

All exciting stuff anyway and Piers said he'll definitely use the technique again.

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