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Lay Summary
The role of public advisors in social care policy research 
Patrick Wood, Mike Shepherdson, John Nelson and Sarah Lowton
NIHR PRU Showcase Webinar, 5 April 2022

Patrick Wood - The role of a public advisor

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Adult Social Care

  • Being a public advisor is personally and professionally rewarding

  • Feedback from researchers suggests that public advisors make valuable contributions

  • At times, public advisors can feel marginalised and alienated in meetings with researchers

  • Key questions include:

  1. Where does public involvement sit on the list of researchers’ priorities?

  2. What power does public involvement possess to bring about change?


Mike Shepherdson – Case Study Evaluating the case for GP’s in Emergency Departments (GPED Policy)

NIHR Policy Research Unit in the Economics of Health Systems and Interface with Social Care


  • Data quality extremely variable by trust

  • Quantitively the introduction of GPED’s does not appear to make a huge difference to either waiting times or reattendances

  • Impact on Primary care services & Financial implications unclear

  • Policy implemented ahead of completion / publication of the study results – Political will driving policy not data / research

  • Lack of leadership / management discipline (all levels) within trusts to manage change

  • Excellent education for Public Advisors- should hold the sessions more widely?


John Nelson and Sarah Lowton – Reflections on experience supporting OPFPRU project: ‘Exploring older people's support needs for making healthier decisions about alcohol during COVID-19’- Dr Beth Bareham (PI)

NIHR Older People and Frailty Policy Research Unit

  • Experts by Experience provide essential lived experience perspective to research, enabling researchers to better understand the actual experience of say, addiction as opposed to the theoretical or clinical perspective

  • Experts by Experience are often using their experience to help others struggling with the same issues they have been managing themselves, which brings current knowledge and practical experience to their input

  • Experts by Experience lend an authenticity to research that might otherwise be lacking;

  • Providing advice and support to relevant research projects can aid and help build and grow individual’s own recovery

  • Paying Experts by Experience shows that you value their input and can boost self-esteem and positive feelings of worth.

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