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Supporting vulnerable patients through research

27/02/2019

Cheryl Chan, educator 3 North, Richmond Hospital.

For Cheryl Chan, caring for older adults in Richmond is more than just a job, it's a passion. So when the opportunity came in 2013 to combine improving patient care with research—something that had always been on her bucket list—Cheryl jumped at the opportunity.

“It was the first year they began giving out research grants to encourage frontline staff to conduct research here in Richmond," Cheryl remembers. “Even though the process seemed daunting at first, I was passionate about wanting to find out what barriers existed for nurses working with delirium in the acute setting. This became my main area of study."

Once Cheryl determined her research question for the Research Challenge, it was time to develop her methodology. She chose to conduct an explorative study and collect qualitative data through a focus group of her peers.  

“We came up with five open-ended questions for the acute care nurses to answer and were able to recruit 15 participants for the two-hour session," she says. With lots of great conversation and discussion, it was time to pull out key themes from the transcriptions to see was resonated the most for our nurses. After analyzing all the data, three key themes emerged: language barrier, gap of knowledge, and process system.

“In Richmond, we have a very diverse multicultural population," she says. “Many of the statements from the nurses expressed not being able to get adequate medical history from patients due to language barriers, sometimes prohibiting them from knowing whether a patient was delirious or not."

Other themes such as a gap of knowledge about delirium and dementia, as well as a lack of processes and systems to help manage patients with these complex medical issues were also discussed.

Cheryl presented her findings to multiple groups and forums following her study and while there were not any direct implementations from her results, she's already planning a follow-up study—one she hopes will help provide even stronger evidence for changes needed here in Richmond.

Looking back, Cheryl says that had there been all the programs available to support researchers as there are today, things would have been much easier.

 “We're so lucky to have all the funding from the Richmond Hospital Foundation and resources from the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute," she says. “I know if I choose to do a follow up study that it will even better because of all the support we now have in Richmond for research. It was a lot of work, but overall a good experience and I'm looking forward to do it all over again!"

Doing research in Richmond

Interested in learning more about doing research in Richmond? Visit VCHRI's website for more information.

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