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Shared NIHR commitments to public involvement, participation and engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic


16 April 2020


1.0 - April 2020


The NIHR Public Involvement Senior Leadership Team (SLT) - which includes leads for public involvement across NIHR Coordinating Centres, public members and partners - has agreed new commitments for patient and public involvement, engagement and participation (PIE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These eight commitments are aligned to the UK Standards for Public Involvement and will shape a shared NIHR approach to maintaining and progressing PIE during this period.

1. We will stay informed, and keep contributors and our colleagues informed - in a timely way - of developments across NIHR research (commissioning and programmes) that relate, or are relevant to, COVID-19

(UKPI Standards: Communication)

Example of action to meet the commitment:

  • SLT members collate and share information regularly about national developments in research (inside or outside NIHR) relating to COVID-19
    PIE Lead prioritises time to feedback or update public contributors on research they are have been involved in or have an interest in

2. We will reach out to emerging COVID-19 and other research funding programmes and activities to offer support and help facilitate effective involvement, participation and engagement, including help to adapt methods and approaches where needed

(UKPI Standards: Support and Learning)

Example of action to meet the commitment:

  • A PIE lead arranges regular online or teleconference update and support meetings with research teams, sharing the latest thinking and resources, and guiding approaches

3. We will involve the public and patients in planning ahead for how COVID-19 may affect work, to develop contingencies and to manage risks

(UKPI Standards: Governance)

Example of action to meet the commitment:

  • A research advisor or research team lead develops a new risk register with new ways to prevent or overcome risks, in collaboration with patient and public contributors
  • A trial team works with participating patients to understand implications for them as a result of changes to a study, and to ensure they continue to get the right care

4. We will be flexible, and co-develop adaptive ways of working, which demonstrate understanding of – and are responsive to – the needs and concerns of individuals, groups and communities whilst respecting Government and institutional guidance

(UKPI Standards: Working Together)

Example of action to meet the commitment:

  • An institution reviews processes for supporting public involvement to make sure that they are appropriate, flexible and inclusive, and meet the needs of individuals, groups and communities

5. We will identify and review support needs for adaptive ways of working (e.g. remote or digital), and work together to address these

(UKPI Standards: Inclusive Opportunities; Support and Learning)

Example of action to meet the commitment:

  • A shared learning group co-designs a resource identifying new and innovative ways to adapt working styles
  • PIE lead seeks to understand the preferred or possible ways of working with contributors to inform new ways of working and arranges training on this where needed

6. We will share skills, knowledge, ideas and resources freely and in a timely way to support effective PIE, and to help identify and address obstacles across the system

(UKPI Standards: Support and Learning)

Example action to meet the commitment:

  • Public or patient contributors etc identify challenges and opportunities from their involvement or participation and share with SLT members or the Centre for Engagement and Dissemination, including ideas for improvement

7. We will ensure that patient and public contributors continue to be recognised and rewarded appropriately for their effort, and adapt how we do this together

(UKPI Standards: Impact; Working Together)

Example of action to meet the commitment:

  • An infrastructure Manager or Director makes a renewed commitment to recognition and reward for public contributors and asks teams to set regular 1:1’s for feedback and praise, also ensuring that payment processes are adapted for the situation

8. We will agree appropriate contact plans (e.g: between public/patient contributors and Leads, or between Leads), to support each other’s social contact and emotional wellbeing

(UKPI Standards: Governance; Communication)

Example of an action to meet the commitment:

  • PIE leads contact active contributors and mutually agree a contact plan: type, method, frequency

Acknowledgement and thanks to Steven Blackburn, PIE Leads from the SLT, and Tina Coldham, who developed this set of commitments.

Find out more about NIHR's response to COVID-19