Students Crossing UL Living Bridge
Wednesday, February 16, 2022

A researcher at University of Limerick has received funding for a project that will benefit people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Dr Roisin Cahalan, of UL’s School of Allied Health, was successful in the highly competitive Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety (RCQPS) funding scheme.

Dr Calahan, a Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy at UL, has been awarded €271,877 for her project ‘COPD-MAX: Community-based Optimisation Programme for respiratory disease Management and Assessment’.

COPD affects approximately 340,000 people in Ireland, has the highest number of COPD in-hospital bed days in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is one of the most resource-intensive conditions in acute healthcare.

Its effective management is a governmental priority based on minimising admissions to acute services through community-based care.

Dr Calahan, who is working with Professor Tim McDonnell, Chairman COPD Support Ireland, as a knowledge user on the COPD-MAX project, said it would collaborate with patients and clinical stakeholders to “co-design, implement and evaluate a novel community-based (in-person or online) exercise maintenance programme for COPD patients, that will serve as the cost-effective referral destination of choice for clinicians, including HSE staff and GPs.

“Ultimately, this research strives to optimise COPD patient wellness whilst alleviating demand on overstretched acute service providers,” said Dr Calahan.

The funding scheme, which is a partnership between the HSE, HRB and RCPI, involves collaboration between academic researchers and knowledge users.

Applicants were invited to use a Quality Improvement approach to design new models of health and social care based on needs arising from direct or indirect impacts of COVID-19 in Ireland.

In a highly competitive process, an international panel selected just two awards from 31 eligible applications, one of which is for UL’s Dr Calahan and other for Professor Frédérique Vallières, Associate Professor, Trinity College Dublin, to improve the delivery of trauma-informed care.

Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board (HRB), said: “This scheme delivers research in response to clear needs in quality and patient safety as identified by people working at the coal face. I believe there will be big improvements to the lives of COPD patients and trauma-informed care resulting from these two newly funded projects.

“The HRB is delighted to collaborate with the Health Service Executive National Quality and Patient Safety Directorate (HSE NQPSD) and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland on this important initiative.”

Dr Orla Healy, National Clinical Director, HSE National Quality and Patient Safety Directorate, said: “Quality and Patient Safety research represents an important commitment in The Patient Safety Strategy (2019-2024). I welcome these projects as excellent examples of collaborations between academic researchers, knowledge users and patients working together to achieve translatable findings for improvements in the quality of care.”

Dr Terry McWade, CEO of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, said: “We are proud to be part of the RCQPS and the vital research it funds. COVID-19 has required health and social care systems to rapidly adapt and establish new processes and procedures for patients and staff. These projects provide huge opportunity to learn from these adaptations and improve quality and patient safety beyond the pandemic.”