UCLan professor recognised for enhancing health and social care research
Caroline Watkins awarded prestigious reward for her stroke research
A top professor from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been awarded a prestigious honour for her stroke research.
Caroline Watkins, Professor of Stroke and Older People's Care, has been chosen as a Senior Investigator for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This award follows a previous Senior Investigator award which she received in 2008.
The top health and social care researcher has been recognised for her continued outstanding contribution to patient-focused research and research leadership by the NIHR, and has been commended for her strong interactions with patients and the public, as well as policy makers.
Professor Watkins, who is Director of Research and Innovation for the College of Health and Wellbeing, said: “My aim, and that of my brilliant research team, is to improve stroke care through research, and then support its implementation into practice. Nurses and nursing are now recognised as fundamental to the provision of high quality stroke care. This award demonstrates NIHR’s commitment to increasing the capacity for research into stroke nursing, through supporting the development of high quality nursing researchers.”
"This award demonstrates NIHR’s commitment to increasing the capacity for research into stroke nursing, through supporting the development of high quality nursing researchers."
Current programmatic research spans the entire stroke care pathway: emergency calls and care (including cardiac arrest), head positioning in hyper-acute stroke, screening for and management of dysphagia, oral care, supporting and intervening in psychological adjustment, exercise and its links to depression, promotion of continence, need and unmet need in the community, encouraging recovery through exercise, reducing worklessness, and increasing engagement in physical activity.
Senior Investigators provide leadership and expert advice to the NIHR research faculty, and act as ambassadors to promote clinical and applied people-focused research. Professor Watkins is already one of a handful of NIHR Advocates for supporting nursing (and other) clinical academic careers, and Director of Capacity and Implementation, for the NIHR Collaboration in Leadership for Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) North West Coast.
Dr Nigel Harrison, Executive Dean of UCLan’s College of Health and Wellbeing, expressed his pleasure. He said: “This personal award is true recognition for Professor Caroline Watkins and her abilities as a health and social care research leader. This will help Caroline provide leadership to more senior, as well as junior researchers, who will go on to make a difference to patient care.”
Dr Karen Wright, Head of the School of Nursing, added: “It is fantastic that Caroline has been given this award, as one of the few recipients who are nurses, and adding to the increasing number awarded in the North West.”
Professor Pierre Martin-Hirsch and Gemma Whitely, Director and Manager of Research and Innovation, at Lancashire Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, concurred: “This award will support our mission to enhance research capability at the trust, supporting our provision of excellent evidence-based care.”
"This personal award is true recognition for Professor Caroline Watkins and her abilities as a health and social care research leader."
The scheme was launched in April 2008 when the first 100 researchers were selected from those leading NIHR applied health and social care research in the UK. In this the ninth annual round of the competition, an international panel of experts appointed only 51 Senior Investigators for 2016 (34 new appointees and 17 current or previous holders of the award). This brings the total to 202 across the UK.
The purpose of identifying and rewarding Senior Investigators is to support and incentivise key individuals who are making the most outstanding contribution to research essential for decision-making in health and in social care.
Senior Investigators are members of the NIHR College and will receive an award of £15,000 a year as a personal discretionary fund, and attract additional NIHR Research Capability Funding to the main NHS organisation with which they hold a contract of employment or an honorary contract.