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Practice and Practitioners

Research from Practice and Practitioners seeks to bridge the gap between theory and practice through working collaboratively with a range of professionals including social workers, occupational therapists and teachers. We often work to evaluate and develop interventions and new ways of innovative and joint working. Find out more about our projects below. 


This study responds to the inquiry questions: ‘What are the most effective ways of tailoring and delivering housing supports for individuals exiting institutional settings?’; and ‘How does institutionalisation mediate the risk of ‘post-exit’ housing insecurity, and how do housing and social supports moderate this risk?’.  

The project considered the transition from out-of-home care in Victoria and Western Australia. The specific policy contexts included housing, homelessness, child protection and out-of-home care. Several data sources were utilised to identify the extent and nature of service coordination and integration, with a focus on the intersections between leaving care, housing, homelessness and related service systems. The project analysed Victorian administrative linked data of all individuals aged between 15 and 18 years who left care in 2013 or 2014, qualitative data collected from 34 care leavers and 24 service providers in Victoria and Western Australia and a mixed method analysis of linked administrative and qualitative data. Locating qualitative data collection in both Victoria and Western Australia provided insight into differences and similarities such as population size; Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse populations and profiles; and service funding, organisation and design. Hence, the findings from this project offer valuable policy and practice recommendations reflective of diverse circumstances and contexts. Visit the website to find out more.

Project partners include RMIT University, Northumbria University, Curtin University, NTNU Social Research Norway and Monash University.

Around 50,000 people leave mental healthcare hospitals every year. Leaving hospital is a critical transition point in terms of personal recovery. Many find discharge overwhelming and distressing. There is a risk of becoming unwell again and around 13% of people quickly go back into hospital. This has been made worse by COVID-19. A poorly planned discharge can also increase the risk of suicide. 

Research shows that identifying people's needs after they leave hospital and making clear personalised plans can help to support people move safely from hospital to home. However, two national surveys with a total of 1,341 people found that 40% of people leaving mental health hospitals have no plan in place to support them after they leave. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines state that discharge planning should include staff working together with service users (being collaborative), but the surveys revealed that over 50% of service users had no or little involvement in planning. There are likely to be many complex reasons why discharges are not well or collaboratively planned. This could include a lack of understanding of how staff, service users and carers/supporters can work together to plan discharge, the way that staff relate to service users, limited resources, and pressures on staff. We believe that to improve discharge planning we need to understand these complicated factors. This project is the first to combine a realist approach with a systems approach to understand lived-experience and co-produce a better approach to discharge planning. 

Funded by NIHR HS&DR. Collaborators: University of East Anglia; Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust; Anglia Ruskin University; King's College London; University of Hertfordshire; Queen Mary University of London; East London NHS Foundation Trust; Delft University of Technology 

Early rehabilitation and mobilisation covers a range of physical activities, therapies and modification to standard critical care treatments that can be delivered to patients during their stay in intensive care units. The PERMIT Study – funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme, aims to understand how early rehabilitation and mobilisation could be used within Paediatric intensive care units in the UK.  

The PERMIT Study, led from Birmingham, is a large, nationwide, multidisciplinary team of academics, clinicians and parent representatives from paediatric intensive care units, neurology, rehabilitation medicine, nursing, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and clinical and social science researchers from the NHS and UK Universities – including Birmingham, Cambridge, Imperial, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Southampton, UCL and Northumbria.   

The team are developing an evidence-based, parent, child and health professional-informed, early rehabilitation and mobilisation intervention and exploring how best to introduce it into Paediatric intensive care units. 

Led by Professor Toby Brandon, this project is evaluating the usefulness of the 5Ps+Plan (Formulation) in Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trusts. The project is being funded by The National Institute of Health Research Applied Research Collaboration for the North East and North Cumbria. 

The 5Ps+Plan is being implemented in services across the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW). Formulation, which is concerned with preparing people, intends to enable professionals to work collaboratively with patients/service users, and their families/friends to develop an understanding of the influences on their mental health and wellbeing. In practice, 5Ps+Plan (Formulation) involves pulling together five key parts of peoples life, seeing how they are linked and making a plan:

  1. Presenting issues (What’s happening in your life at the moment?)
  2. Predisposing factors (What may have happened in your past?)
  3. Precipitating factors (What sets things off or what was happening when your difficulties started?)
  4. Perpetuating factors (What makes change difficult?)
  5. Protective factors (What are your positives, strengths, resources, and/or supports?) 

It is thought that working in this way can help identify key actions for building effective care plans to reduce distress, promote wellbeing and help people stay safe and well. To evaluate this we are using a Participatory Evaluation (PE) model, an approach that reflects the co-produced nature of the Formulation process itself, to identify what elements of the 5Ps+Plan approach make it effective and what changes might need to be made to improve it. Those with lived experience of mental distress are involved in all aspects of the evaluation. The project involves a systematic literature review on Formulation followed by an inspection of what’s happening in terms of Formulation nationally. An outlining of 5Ps+Plan across CNTW will take place using the Trusts database. Lastly, learning sessions based around the 5Ps+Plan will be delivered for groups of patients/service users, their families/friends and staff to explore 5Ps+Plan as it is being delivered to them in real time. We will share the findings to varied audiences using different approaches, including a film of best practice in 5Ps+Plan both acted and produced by people with lived experience.

Social Prescribing is currently being established in primary care networks, in which ‘link workers’ support those with health and social needs to find and engage with community resources to help their health and wellbeing. There is emerging evidence from Social Prescribing schemes in adults, yet a lack of work on Social Prescribing for Children and Young People. 

This study, supported by funding from the Great North Children’s Hospital, Ways to Wellness and the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration for the North East and North Cumbria, will explore the impact of Social Prescribing in the already established community-based Zone West programme for primary school aged children. We will also set up and explore an innovative scheme to support children with neurodisabilities and their families. 

This is a cross-sector, cross-organisation, collaboration across Newcastle and Northumbria universities, the Great North Children’s Hospital, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and two third sector organisations – North East Wellbeing and Ways to Wellness alongside health and social care professionals, commissioners and local authority representatives and children and young people and their families. 

Young people exiting out-of-home care often experience poor outcomes in adulthood, including higher levels of homelessness, transitory lifestyles, lower levels of educational achievement, greater poverty and unemployment, poorer physical and mental health and greater contact with the criminal justice system. Currently we lack comprehensive research to help understand young people’s pathways into and transitioning out-of-home care, and the factors enabling quality supports. This longitudinal study uses a population-based method to examine the pathways of young people in and transitioning from out-of-home care in Western Australia. The combined findings from the population-based data, together with an in-depth understanding of their lived experiences will identify a best practice model for improving their transition from care experiences to facilitate improved outcomes. 

Navigating through life aims to: 

  • Understand pathways associated with particular outcomes of young people in and transitioning from out-of-home care 
  • Map pathways and the lived experience of young people as they transition to leave out-of-home care and after exiting out-of-home care 
  • Identify key factors for meeting the cultural, social and developmental needs associated with successful transitions 
  • Identify Aboriginal family and community perspectives on the barriers and enablers important to the achievement of developmental milestones from a cultural perspective 

Visit the website to find out more

Project partners include Curtin University, Monash University, The University of Western Australia, Wanslea Family Services, The Department of Communities, Northumbria University and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

In this project a multi-institutional team, led by Professor Elizabeth Hoult, are exploring the wider benefits that teacher education as a discipline, brings to universities. The relationship between teacher educators and universities is complex. Most believe in a theoretically-informed and research-rich introduction for the profession. The demands of running successful teacher education, and particularly in meeting the rigorous standards set by the external inspection framework, sometimes seem to pull in different directions to the performances required of an active researcher in a university, though. In this first national study of its kind, the team is gathering data on the wider benefits to a university of hosting teacher education. Emerging evidence suggests that teacher education teams play a significant role in developing the university’s profile at regional level. 

The team consists of Dr Judy Durrant (Canterbury Christ Church), Dr Richard Holme (Dundee), Professor Elizabeth Hoult (Northumbria), Dr Christine Lewis (Edge Hill), Dr David Littlefair (Northumbria), Dr Matthew Martinez (Northumbria), Lizana Oberholzer (Wolverhampton). 

Cumbria, Northumberland and the Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) provides a range of mental health, learning disability and neurological care services across the north of England. CNTW are currently implementing a programme to embed MECC across the Trust supporting weight management (‘A Weight Off Your Mind’).  

As part of the programme, bespoke MECC training has been developed to improve staff confidence in discussing physical activity, healthy eating and behaviour change with service users. The evidence for MECC is based on extensive brief intervention literature for several behavioural risk factors (e.g., alcohol consumption). This pragmatic process evaluation, delivered by an experienced multidisciplinary team, is designed to:  

  • Explore perceptions of capabilities, opportunities, motivations and experiences of healthcare professionals (HCPs) delivering MECC at CNTW 
  • Assess service users’ experiences of receiving MECC 
  • Assess the theory, techniques and content of MECC as delivered by CNTW trained professionals, and report the extent to which it is delivered with fidelity, and is understood by recipients as intended
  • Identify data collection and management information systems for MECC at CNTW 

Funded by NIHR ARC NENC. Collaborators: Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear (CNTW) NHS Foundation Trust; Newcastle University; Durham University, Northumbria Healthcare Trust, Darlington Borough Council, North East (NEt) Together 

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