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As part of REF 2021, the Unit is submitting nine impact case studies with a range of beneficiaries from patients to communities to pharma; further details of these will be available later in 2021. These form part of a bigger picture in the Unit of research being translated into practice to help address key national and global challenges such as an ageing population, marginalised or underserved groups, diet and nutrition, infectious disease, and the response to COVID-19. Researchers in the Unit have more than 300 regional, national and global collaborations which have strengthened the breadth and depth of our research and facilitated the advancement of multidisciplinary research. Impact is achieved through purposeful and strategic dissemination to a wide range of public and professional audiences.

Health and Social Care Impact 

Researchers are working with multiple organisations to develop and sustain research in high priority areas for health and social care. Much of this work involves co-production, working with end users and embedding the insights of 'Experts by Experience'. Some key examples of our work are as follows: 

Led by Dr Catherine Bailey, researchers worked with Newcastle and Northumbria Local Authorities and the Elders Council to understand the role of home adaptations to support independent living for elderly people. Read the research  

Professor Glenda Cook and colleagues from Design are working with the Home Group to develop technology enabled homes to promote independence in elderly people.  

Led by Dr Ed Schwalbe, in collaboration with Newcastle University and NewGene, a novel diagnostic test has been developed to aid rapid and robust clinical diagnosis of childhood brain tumour subtypes. Read the research.

New Projects 

The Unit has several novel areas of growing impact, evidenced by exciting ongoing projects. Examples of these include: 

Led by Professor Nicola Adams, researchers have developed rehabilitation interventions for elderly people with co-morbidities and long-term conditions. The team worked with visually impaired older people to develop a novel and innovative health promotion exercise intervention to reduce the risk of falls. This has improved practice and patient outcomes in the UK and USA.  

Dr Amanda Jones has developed a novel culture medium to improve detection of non-tuberculous mycobacteria which has led to six hospitals changing their standard operating procedures for non-tuberculous mycobacteria testing.  

Led by Dr Sterghios Moschos, researchers have developed a new breath collecting device, which could transform the way diseases such as COVID-19 are diagnosed.  

Led by Dr Phillip Whitehead, the BATH-OUT-2 trial on bathing adaptations to improve the lives of older adults. Working with four local authorities the project will assess whether a walk-in shower benefits elderly people in relation to health, safety, and quality of life.

Community and Public Engagement 

Researchers in the Unit actively promote their work through digital and traditional media and public engagement activities. Researchers have been involved in events such as Soapbox Science and the NUSTEM initiative which aims to increase the number and diversity of young people choosing STEM careers.  

Examples of our involvement and successes in public engagement include: 

Dr Sebastian Potthoff is Head Editor of the Practical Health Psychology blog which publishes articles about the latest research from the field and how this can be put into practice in our day-to-day lives. 

Dr Graeme Turnbull and Professor John Dean have been recognised by the Royal Society of Chemistry for their roles in developing diverse and accessible outreach activities. 

Researchers worked with Tyne and Wear Museums to develop a new resource to engage older people in arts and cultural activities to improve their health and wellbeing. The resource supports health and social care professionals to use museums as part of a care practice when working with older people. 

Response to COVID-19  

Northumbria’s NU-OMICS team are part of the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium which is delivering large-scale and rapid whole-genome virus sequencing to local NHS Centres and the UK Government. 

Multidisciplinary projects are underway investigating superhydrophobic antiviral coatings and ozone nanobubbling effects on viral disinfection for laundry applications. Dr Guangquan Li and researchers from other Units have received funding to establish an 'Observatory for Monitoring Data-Driven Approaches to COVID-19'. 

In relation to the health and wellbeing impact of the pandemic, researchers are exploring the improved use of telehealth in children’s therapy services, the healthcare needs of residents in sheltered accommodation, and the wellbeing of healthcare and hospital workers.  

REF2021 Impact Case Studies

To read all impact case studies in full, please click here.

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