Last week was the first ever meeting of a group of researchers all interested in using qualitative research methods with people with communication difficulties and dementia. The meeting arose from a series of blogs, tweets and chats between Anna Volkmer, Sarah Griffiths and Jemima Dooley and evolved into an idea to bring together more like-minded researchers to start a twice annual meeting of minds, ideas and creative discussion. In true qualitative research fashion this was a rather iterative process and will likely continue to evolve over time.
The meeting was posted on twitter and we were rather overwhelmed with the responses- we couldn’t believe how many people were interested (with so little notice) and the interest that the tweet drew. Jemima hosted the inaugural meeting in Bristol and nine people attended (Anna attended via video conferencing- oh the beauty of modern technology). We had a really interesting and engaging discussion about the pitfalls and wonders of trying to do research in this area.
This touched on many associated areas including ethics and co-production. It seems so important to ensure that people with dementia really understand what they are consenting too, that we modify the way we present the information we give to people to ensure they can make an informed decision. Even using innovative methods such as video to convey information can be helpful. People with dementia often report that they trust us as researchers, and we discussed the need to meet this challenge. Co-producing, co-researching and involving people with dementia in developing and conducting research is one way of meeting this need. Despite there being little guidance on how to do this we started sharing our experiences of putting together research ideas, of modifying research methods and analysing data.
We started putting our minds together and have generated a list of aims for our group including:
- Sharing – current and past work, what works/what doesn’t/ sharing literature / developing future collaborations and networks of support
- Innovating– in different stages of dementia. How we adapt traditional methods and evaluate
- Including PwD – co-production/engagement and trust/acknowledgement that good Qualitative research with PwD is time consuming
- Increasing awareness – of qualitative dementia research
- Exploring ethical issues around qualitative dementia research
- Supporting wellbeing – of participants and researchers
We are hoping to host our next meeting in March at UCL, details to follow. If you would like to get in touch and stay informed please get in touch with us via email@example.com 
You can also find out more from last weeks podcast featured below:
Anna Volkmer is a Speech and Language Therapist and NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow working in Language and Cognition, Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London. Anna is researching Speech and language therapy interventions in language led dementia.