What aspect of Research and Treatment for Parkinson’s is the PMF supporting?
The charity is supporting the work of Professor Camille Carroll and her team. Professor Carroll is a consultant neurologist at Derriford Hospital and Professor of Clinical Neuroscience in the University Medical School. She and her team have an international profile in Parkinson’s research.
Specifically, PMF is raising money to enable a research student, Katie Bounsall to complete her PhD. Katie will be working on the Home Based Care (HBC) transformation project.
How much will this cost and what will it accomplish?
Katie is a local Plymouth graduate, who has worked in healthcare in Leicester and Plymouth as a pre-habilitation specialist and analyst. She has a successful track record of evaluating innovations in cancer care. Professor Carroll and Dr Meinert are delighted to have appointed this talented researcher to the team initially as a research assistant; the additional funding will secure her registration and training for a PhD degree. This will cost £46,000 including salary and research facilities.
Two years’ prestigious funding has already been secured from the NHS Digital Partnership.
What is this work and why is it important? The Home Based Care (HBC) project.
Professor Carroll and her team have devised a revolutionary way of managing Parkinson’s Disease.
By way of explanation, let us quote Professor Carroll. Here she is talking to an imaginary, but typical patient:
“Well, I am sitting quite comfortably, thank you. The clinic room is warm; I have a cup of tea and my bottle of water. I got up, had my breakfast and drove in as usual this morning – nothing special or stressful about today. What about you?
……Oh, you had to get up two hours early to get here for your morning appointment, because your Parkinson’s means that you are slowed up with things like washing, dressing, eating, and moving, and you didn’t want to be late. You and your wife had to drive with the commuter traffic into the city, and then drive around the hospital car park for 30 minutes looking for a parking space, so now you are stressed, and your Parkinson’s is worse. But you will put on a brave front for me. This is our opportunity for a catch up, where I get to ask how you are and suggest treatment changes to your complicated medication regime which will get you through the next 12 months, because there isn’t space in clinic for me to see you more frequently. So, I will see you again in 12 months, your GP will receive a letter, the waiting list is managed, and everyone is satisfied. Except maybe not you. And, actually, I’m not either. Am I really providing you with the care you need, in the way that you need it?”
The fact is that as far as Parkinson’s treatment is concerned, the traditional model of outpatient visits is broken. Put simply, although primary care can deal with straightforward matters of therapy, the NHS cannot provide the expert, specialist backup in a timely manner. Backups which can make all the difference to a patient’s long-term disability and suffering.
Using newly developed technology, physical data can be picked up by dedicated sensors similar to Fitbits and Apple watches. These are transmitted over the internet to the specialist team. Warning changes can be detected and action taken, or patients themselves can request a consultation from the comfort and convenience of their homes.
Before this new technology can be adopted for routine and more widespread use, it must be further developed and not only refined, but shown to be effective. It requires academic expertise in the form of trials and analysis. It falls into the category of ‘Health Research’ and although removed from the world of laboratory benches and microscopes, it is research which is every bit as vital and will directly benefit patients. Moreover, it is being led by a local team and local patients.
What will success in the case of this project look like?
In broad terms:
- The Home Based Care (HBC) pathway optimised by its collaborators and patients.
- A robust technical and economic evaluation of the Home Based Care programme.
- The project submitted to the NHS as a fully worked up proposal for the management of patients suffering from Parkinson’s.
- Katie Bounsall able to achieve her PhD: ‘Dr. Bounsall’.
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