Research Involvement and Engagement
Kurongkurl Katitjin / School of Arts and Humanities
Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, Government of Western Australia under Edith Cowan University Covid-19 Research Projects Grant
Background: Older adults have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 restrictions such as stay at home orders and physical distancing measures have been implemented to reduce older adults’ risk of infection, however, such measures can have negative effects on older adults’ mental health and social wellbeing. In 2020, the research team received funding as part of an Australian COVID-19 research grants program to investigate how services can better meet the mental health and social support needs of older adults during COVID-19. A Consumer Reference Group (CRG) was established to provide a community perspective on all research activities. Main body: The CRG comprised of eight older adults aged 65 years and older living in Western Australia. Two members of the CRG were involved in the initial grant proposal, and one member worked for a not-for-profit organisation that provides support and advocacy for older adults. The CRGs role was to provide consumer and community perspectives on the research design, advise on study materials, facilitate links between consumers, the community, and researchers, and advocate on behalf of consumers and the community. The CRG was encouraged to reflect on the research project, their contributions, and the outcomes obtained. In this commentary, we document the CRGs contributions to the project, and record their reflections, including what went well, what were some challenges, the realities of conducting research during COVID-19, and lessons learnt. Conclusion: The CRG were active participants in the research process. They shared their perspectives and made important contributions to the project. Through collaboration with the CRG, we were able to reach four key messages, underpinned by consumers lived experiences, that were used to co-develop knowledge translation products. These were disseminated to service providers and older adults.
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