Advanced Care Research Centre

Blog - PPI Academy and Mentorship Reflection

We are excited to announce we have reached our one-year anniversary of the ACRC PPI Academy and Mentorship Programme. Hear about some of their experiences.

The aim of this programme is to provide our Academy PhD students the opportunity to engage and discuss their research with an older adult or someone with experience of caring for older adults. Also, to incorporate a public perspective at an early stage. We reached out to one of our experienced mentors, Sarah Bittlestone and her recent mentee, Godfrey Wanok for some comments on their own experiences in the programme.

PPI Member – Sarah Bittlestone - Reflection 

I have been working with the ACRC Academy for just over two years now and have been impressed with the breadth of the PhD projects, and the wealth of experience and different backgrounds of the students, particularly their enthusiasm for including PPI in their projects.  The Mentorship Programme has enabled me to work more closely with individual students, to discuss and encourage their PPI plans. Having worked in PPI for over twenty years, when it was rare for PPI to be considered at all, I’ve been blown away by the consideration and enthusiasm with which my Mentees approach PPI in their projects. Occasionally, I’ve even had to discourage them from doing too much simply because they are so passionate and dedicated to their projects!


Godfrey Wanok - Reflection

‘Nothing about us without us’ is a quote to which I believe the PPIE initiative stands and builds on. PPIE has shown the importance of involving the community or patients in studies/research about them and it is a great honour for me to be part of it. The first time I was introduced to this term was during one of the PPIE lectures in the first semester of the first year in which significant information was shared by the team. At the time of the first lecture, I had not yet started thinking about my summer project or PhD project in depth, but I kept all the information for the right time.

Towards the end of the second semester of the first year, we received the PPIE calendar for the year which had details of the number of times we were supposed to meet our mentors. This was also the time we were assigned to our respective mentors. At the end of the semester, I contacted my mentor, and I liked the enthusiasm she showed towards the first call for a meeting. For me, this increased my confidence as I became more excited for the meeting. In the meeting invitation email, I shared my background and brief information about both my summer project and PhD project. My summer project is looking at the effect of LED (Light Emitting Diode) on the human retina and the implications this has on the ageing population while my main PhD project will look at automated measurement of recreational reading performance on electronic devices as an indicator of visual frailty diagnostic aid and in ageing.

During the first meeting with my mentor, I learnt more details about her role, and she also gave me invaluable input to both my PhD and summer projects. She told me about some of the potential places and organisations to recruit my PhD study participants in addition to sharing her knowledge about my research area of interest. She also emphasized the importance of diversity during the recruitment of both study participants and PPIE board members. My mentor also confirmed that visual frailty is a new concept and can still be linked to general frailty and other aspects of aging.

To me, one of the most outstanding points from the first meeting was the suggestion that I could use the help of my PPIE board members during dissemination of my study findings. This was something I had never thought about. This meant that their input will not only be seen during the recruitment and implementation phase of my PhD but would continue into sharing the research findings with various audiences especially the lay members which would increase the impact.

In conclusion, I have learnt to incorporate PPIE at every stage of my research and I look forward to the future meetings with my mentor as I write and implement my PhD project.