Funding the future of physiotherapy: Research funding and awards

This year funding of £200,000 is available to CSP members for research, and £84,000 for educational activities. Robert Millett finds out more.


The Charitable Trust is an independent charity established in 1980

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Funding is available from the Charitable Trust

Research and education are vital to the profession, but both can prove expensive. Luckily, CSP members who are keen to pursue research or advance their education can apply for funding from the CSP Charitable Trust. Set up in 1980, the trust is an independent charity which supports education and research relevant to physiotherapy. 
Trustee and CSP honorary treasurer Sue England explains: ‘Each year the charitable trust receives two per cent of the society’s membership subscription income, as well as occasional bequests and legacies from members, member groups and external organisations. These contributions help to fund various grants to members as well as a wide range of initiatives that benefit the profession.’
The CSP Charitable Trust allocates funding across three main categories. They are: physiotherapy research, paediatric research and education grants.

Research grants

By funding physiotherapy research in the UK at a number of levels, the trust aims to broaden the evidence base informing physiotherapy practice. Annually, it allocates about £200,000 in research grants through the Physiotherapy Research Foundation. This year the grants have been split between start-up funds of up to £25,000 for novice researchers and funding of up to £50,000 for more experienced researchers.
Physiotherapist Claire Marcroft, who leads a team at Newcastle upon Tyne NHS trust, applied to the trust as a novice researcher and received a £20,000 award. She is using the money to fund studies into the motor assessment of pre-term infants.
Ms Marcroft told Frontline: ‘Assessment of infant neuro-developmental stage and progress is very important for both clinicians and parents of pre-term infants. It will result in direct improvements in the way care is delivered. And having the opportunity to contribute to the development of the role of the clinical academic by leading clinical research is also very exciting for the physiotherapy profession.’
As well as funding research in a range of fields, the trust provides awards specifically for paediatric research. This year grants of up to £25,000 are available for novice researchers who submit projects addressing research questions in the areas of paediatric non-acquired brain injury and paediatric cerebral palsy.
In addition, for the second year running the CSP Charitable Trust and children’s charity Action Medical Research have teamed up to offer experienced researchers an award of up to £250,000 for paediatric research (see News on page 13).
Last year saw the trust grant a special care of older people research award of £300,000 to Anne Forster, professor in the academic unit of elderly care and rehabilitation at the University of Leeds. Professor Forster and colleagues are using the funds to conduct a randomised controlled feasibility trial of a training package designed to upskill care home staff.
The care training course was devised by physiotherapists Jill Fisher, Karen Hull and other members of the Physiotherapists Care Skills Group. The training is designed to improve the postural care of care home residents and enable staff to practise good physical management when they move and handle people (see Frontline, page 24, 6 November 2013). Professor Forster said: ‘This is a wonderful opportunity to evaluate a physiotherapy-led intervention which may improve the care environment for frail older people in care homes.’ 
Ms England says the trust has been able to fund larger projects like this over the last five years, thanks to extra funds from the CSP. ‘These projects have been very practical in nature and should produce the evidence to underpin everyday clinical practice,’ she says. ‘And as the results come through they will be disseminated across the profession.’ fl
  • For details on applying for Charitable Trust funding visit page here.

Educational awards

The trust’s educational awards are designed to help members fund various activities. These can include overseas development projects, visits to international centres of research excellence, academically accredited courses, student elective placements and presenting at conferences.
‘Last year the trust made 71 educational awards and, with the exception of the master’s dissemination award, all of these awards are open to qualified, student and associate members,’ says Ms Williams.
In 2014 Gail McAndrew, a final year student at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, received a £700 education and development placement award that helped to fund a five week placement at Headley Court, the armed forces’ rehabilitation centre in Surrey. 
‘It made a massive difference to my placement costs,’ says Ms McAndrew. ‘It really makes you think about what you want out of your elective, and how you can use that knowledge to help others further their learning. I feel that I actively contribute more as a student because of this placement and the focus that the award provided.’
Meanwhile Lauren Fordham, a senior physiotherapist at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS trust, applied for a master’s dissemination award and received £500. She said: ‘This award is a really positive scheme because disseminating your information often involves travelling and publishing,  and these things often fall outside of a clinician’s everyday experience – so the additional funds can really help.’
Ms Fordham has used part of the funds to produce printed copies of her thesis on pain assessment methods in community mental health, which she has now supplied to local libraries. The money also helped her organise and host a ‘pain in mental health’ study day, due to be held in Derby on 26 February. ‘The funds have helped to make the workshop more attractive. As a result, I have lots of speakers and a diversity of clinicians attending – including psychologists, physios and doctors – who will have the opportunity to network and share best practice and evidence-based training,’ she says.
Robert Millett

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