I feel like life has been nonstop for the past few weeks, both in and out of work; December is a busy time for many of us! My research project is coming along nicely, though progress has been slow. To be fair to myself, I only officially started two and a half months ago, which is something my industrial supervisor reminds me whenever I worry I'm not doing enough!
In this blog post, I will bring you up to speed with what I have been working on in December.
Planning a Project Steering Group
After attending the UK Dementia Congress in Brighton, I was inspired to set up some sort of group involving people with dementia and their carers. I spoke to some of my colleagues about this, and they supported the idea of setting up a project steering group to help shape the research.
The project steering group will consist of four to eight people who have been affected by dementia. The aim of the group is to allow people with lived experience of dementia to give their input to the design of my experiments and the tools I will be developing. After all, the tools are being designed for them, so it makes sense to ask the end users what it is they want from the tools.
Previous work (for example, the ALWAYs network) has shown that this sort of involvement can be beneficial for both researchers and those who take part. Shortly after meeting with my colleagues, I set to work drafting resources for recruiting members and meetings. I found the recommendations from the ALWAYs group very useful.
However, I cannot just start this group straight away. In order to involve people living with dementia in my research, I realised that I need to seek approval from an ethics committee.
Applying for Ethical Approval
Over the past two weeks, I have been busy putting together the ethics application for my research project, which has resulted in a 50-page application! The urgency to complete this form has been driven by the deadline, since I would like to set up the project steering group to start in the new year.
Seeking ethical approval is an integral part of any research project, but it is even more important when working with a vulnerable population. Essentially, the ethics committee will decide if I have considered the implications of what I plan to do with people who take part in my research project.
One of the key things is providing people the opportunity to give informed consent to take part, giving them clear information about what they will be asked to do and that they can choose to stop participating at any point. Hopefully, I will have an answer to whether or not my proposed methods for meetings has been accepted by the middle of January.
Although the application took up most of my time recently, I am confident that it will be incredibly beneficial for the research project. I think it is vital to ask the opinion of those affected by dementia, and I am looking forward to finding members when I have received full approval to continue.
I was also in London for a couple of days this week at the CVMP conference. CVMP focuses on computer vision and machine learning, and there were a range of interesting talks from industry and academic speakers.
The main event for me was showcasing my poster at the CDE drinks reception. Here I am with my poster at the networking event.
At the reception, I picked up some applications of virtual reality (VR) for people living with dementia, and am looking forward to talking about these more in my literature review.
Next week is the last week before I head home for Christmas. I have a meeting with my supervisors to catch up on how the project is going on Thursday. After I submit the ethics application, I will be able to return to reading about what tasks are important for people with dementia and move on with my plan for next year.