We’ve had some significant scheduling problems due to delays with the NHS paperwork. I’ll try to explain. We planned to start in the autumn and had recruited a research assistant to collect our data. The research budget demands that we employ someone on a fixed contract, with a fixed number of hours, so her start date was November, and we estimated that the research would be over and done by May this year. This date has now been pushed back by some three months due to paperwork delays. So we have had to renegotiate contracts, plead for extensions from the funder, and hope that we don’t run out of money, or time. This has also meant that we have bumped into other commitments already booked for our therapists as well as our research assistant.
We have to maintain continuity of reflexologist, so each one has to be available for 7 weeks for their allocated participants, at the same day at the same time. The research assistant is the arm measurer, at each of three sites, for every participant - and a two week gap for a holiday needs to be scheduled in – you can’t start measuring people before the holiday and then pick them up after the holiday, because this will interrupt the pattern of weekly treatment and impact on the data, so they have to start after the holiday.
Not all participants start their 7 weeks at the same week, so there is a staggered schedule. We can only fit so many in a day ( allowing time for measurement at start and finish). Add to this room availability, and participants availability and you have a pretty complex schedule. If somebody goes sick, ( God forbid!), the whole house of cards comes down. Then of course we have the participants who don’t come when they are booked in. there are a range of reasons, including ‘ I forgot’ but it seriously impacts on the schedule and the data when there are weekly gaps in it.
My head is full of tables of dates, times, rooms, therapists, and codes for each participant. The research team seems to speak a different language to everyone else, but we all know what eachother is talking about ( well most of the time!).
Then there’s the sorry tale of the NHS paperwork. We are still waiting for full permissions to conduct the research at the NHS site. The other two sites will be over and done with before the third one gets sign off. Two weeks ago, the last of the paperwork went off in the early part of the week. I was assured that ‘ sign off is imminent’ – for the umpteenth time. We waited. Friday afternoon at 4pm I get an email with a 22 page document attached. – A new stack of paperwork which needed filling out, and signed approval before we could proceed to the ‘imminent sign off’. After ploughing through this document, I discovered it was asking for a papertrail to be sent to a different University for sign off. We thought long and hard about what reason there might be for another University to need to be involved in signing off our research. We couldn’t find a reason. So I rang the department to plead. Going through the layers of beaurocracy in another institution was going to take weeks at the very least. Turns out it was a misprint, and the University should have said ‘Cardiff Met’. Phew!. If I didn’t know better, I’d wonder if they knew what they were doing out there in paperwork land.
On another note, we’ve started taking photographs of the lovely ladies’ arms. Hopefully I’ll be able to upload a few soon.
To end on a positive though, we’ve had some lovely comments from our participants, about how they feel when the RLD treatment begins to work. There is often tingling in the hand and arm, many say they feel waves of movement, sometimes trickling fluid of a different temperature and several say they can feel ‘ something moving’ and its tricky to explain. Many begin as sceptics about reflexology, and end up appreciative, curious and impressed…. and that’s a great feeling.