Using a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship for critical care research – Applications open for 2018


by Joanne McPeake

In 2011, I was a Staff Nurse in critical care in Glasgow, and a Lecturer Practitioner at the University of Glasgow. I first heard about the Travelling Fellowships through a list of openings advertised by the university. I felt that this could be a fantastic opportunity for me so I decided to apply. I was elated when I found out my application had been successful. I discovered after the interview that about 1,000 people had applied, so I definitely didn’t expect to be chosen!

For my Fellowship, I went to the USA for four weeks. The broad aims of my project were to look at how to improve outcomes for patients recovering from a period of critical illness. I visited several Intensive Care Units (ICUs), exploring the use of various techniques to improve short and long-term outcomes for patients.

The topics I explored included: the role of the social worker in critical care; the role of early mobilisation in the critical care setting; approaches to sedation and delirium management; and the use of family and patient councils within the acute care setting.

My Fellowship has had a massive influence on my career, but more important than that is the impact on patients that has been brought about because of what I learnt on my travels. A lot has been achieved over the last six years as a direct result of my Fellowship.

Along with Dr Tara Quasim, I developed the first Patient and Family Advisory Council in Scotland. This work, which was supported by the Foundation of Nursing Studies and Burdett Trust for Nursing, provides a forum for patients and families to suggest improvements in the quality and safety of hospital processes. It has enabled further understanding of the challenges which patients and caregivers face during and following critical care. It also led to the creation of strategies to help improve this journey for patients.

Working with other members of the multidisciplinary team in the ICU in Glasgow, I also helped to create InS:PIRE (Intensive Care Syndrome: Promoting Independence and Return to Employment), an innovative five-week rehabilitation programme for ICU survivors. This programme is based on a cardiac rehabilitation model and is funded by The Health Foundation. Patients set individual goals or personal outcomes, which are co-produced with staff at the clinic and various community organisations. This integrated health and social care approach has seen significant impact on the quality of life of both patients and caregivers. In 2016, this model of care was scaled up to another five sites across four health boards in Scotland, in partnership with the Health Foundation and the Scottish Government.

A very exciting development has been the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s THRIVE programme.  This programme, a collaboration involving Glasgow Royal Infirmary, explores how critical care providers can engage with peer support as a mechanism for rehabilitation for critical care patients and their families.  This work, which involves individuals from the UK, the USA and Australia, has given me the opportunity to work with people I first met during my Fellowship!

The shared learning and networking opportunities I gained during my Fellowship have been invaluable in shaping these innovative strategies to improve patient experience and outcomes.


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The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) award funding to individuals to enable them to travel overseas to investigate new and better ways of working, in order to identify solutions to a wide range of current challenges facing the UK. Grants average over £6,000 and normally cover a stay overseas of four to eight weeks, which can be split into two phases. They include the cost of return airfare, daily living costs, insurance and travel within the countries being visited.

Each year, WCMT awards up to 150 Travelling Fellowships. Applications are invited across a range of different areas of research, or categories, including Nursing and Allied Health Professions and Health and Wellbeing. To be eligible to apply, you must be over the age of 18 and a UK citizen resident in the UK.

Applications for travel in 2018 are now open. The deadline is 5pm on 19th September 2017. For more information, or to apply, go to

Contact WCMT on 020 7799 1660 or

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