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Praxis Care Hosts Pioneering Research Conference

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Praxis Care Hosts Pioneering Research Conference

Paul Webb,
Head of Research, Praxis Care

Praxis Care hosted the first ever Complex Needs Research Conference, held at Queen’s University Belfast on 20th November 2023. The conference highlighted the importance of engaging individuals in decision-making processes related to their own lives and their programmes of care.

It began with a Welcome & Introduction by Carol Breen, Chief Executive, Praxis Care, followed by a Research Programme Overview given by Paul Webb, Head of Research. This continued with renowned experts and speakers from international and Northern Ireland-based institutions

Professor Jill Bradshaw (L) and Professor Julie Beadle-Brown (R)

Speakers included Professor Julie Beadle-Brown and Professor Jill Bradshaw from the Tizard Centre, University of Kent, and Associate Professor Linda Steele from the University of Technology, Sydney. They shared valuable insights and research findings on this crucial area of research, policy, and service provision

Professor Gavin Davidson delivered his inaugural lecture showcasing his Praxis Care journey. He told how he went from a support worker at Praxis Care’s Kimberley House to his role as the first Praxis Care Chair of Social Care at QUB.

He said: “Research is crucial to inform service development and improve lives. Praxis Care’s commitment to being open, supportive and engaged with research is exceptional in the social care sector.”

The event brought together a diverse audience of 100 attendees. It addressed the ongoing societal challenge of providing effective and safe services for individuals with co-occurring mental health problems, learning disabilities, and/or autism. Participants included social care workers, management, commissioners, researchers, students, carers, and disability advocates.

Speakers emphasised a person-centred approach that recognises the autonomy and rights of individuals receiving social care services. Presentations covered a wide range of topics, including active support, eliminating restrictive practices, trauma-informed care, physical design of supported accommodation and the human rights perspective.

Katherine Greer, a peer researcher with lived experience of accessing mental health services, talked about the projects she has contributed to. Ms. Greer said the opportunity to work on research has made a huge impact on her life.

“I’ve socialised with people beyond my wildest dreams,” she said, describing how she feels more in control of her life because of her work. Concluding her presentation, she said, “I feel the world is my oyster.”

Danielle McIlroy presented on the crucial topic of mental capacity, best interests, and decision-making. She shared insights from her PhD project, which was supported by Praxis Care. Her research focused on the experiences of individuals with learning disabilities and the perspectives of professionals involved in Best Interests processes.

Greer Wilson, Director of Care & Development Northern Ireland at Praxis Care, concluded the day saying, “People will have a better service today than they did yesterday, and a better service tomorrow than they had today, because of research.”

The event was supported by HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency [DIS/5756/23 DIS/3855/08] and Queen’s University Belfast.

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