The importance of diversity to my role and our Trust – a blog by Olga Colaco for EDHR Week

Author:Olga Colaco

Author: Olga Colaco

Research Nurse Manager

Olga Colaco is the Nurse Manager of the Gynaecology Research Team at Saint Mary’s Hospital and also represents clinical research nurses, research midwives and clinical research practitioners on the Research & Innovation (R&I) Equality, Diversity & Human Rights (EDHR) Group

To mark Equality, Diversity and Human Rights (EDHR) Week 2021, Olga shares why equality, diversity and inclusion are important to her personally and what both her roles involve.

Olga Colaco

Olga Colaco

Hello, my name is Olga Colaco and I have worked at the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) since 2000. I realised that I had transferable skills and knowledge from my previous nursing roles that I could bring to research nursing and joined R&I as a Senior Clinical Research Nurse in 2014.

My role as a Research Nurse Manager

As a Research Nurse Manager, I oversee a team of clinical research nurses and clinical research practitioners (CRPs) and facilitate research delivery on a daily basis. To do this effectively, critical thinking, effective communication skills, integrity and excellent decision-making skills are paramount.

My Clinical Research Delivery Team colleagues and I work closely alongside our colleagues in the Non-Clinical Research Delivery Team, including the Research & Innovation Manager (R&IM)and Clinical Trials Manager, as well as clinical teams within the Saint Mary’s Managed Clinical Service, in order to deliver clinical research studies in the field of gynaecology. Currently, the team is delivering a number of recruiting studies, such as the NES/T study, which is trialling a hormone gel as a potential contraceptive method for men.

I have experience delivering research studies across a range of other clinical areas, including cardiovascular, hepatology, psychiatry, Huntington’s disease, diabetes, surgery, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), dermatology and gastroenterology. Now that I have worked within R&I for good few years, I have a great appreciation for clinical research nursing and the evidence base that research provides to clinical practice. My perspective changed completely through working in a research role, as I address clinical questions in a different way with my research ‘thinking cap’ on.

The importance of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in nursing and midwifery is essential, as it provides opportunities to deliver the highest quality of care to patients. It is essential for healthcare providers to learn about patients’ cultures, and thereby have a positive impact on patients’ health outcomes.

EDI is one of the objectives within the MFT appraisal process, and by achieving this objective, we all can contribute to and exemplify our Trust Vision and Values. Our professional standards of practice and behaviours as clinical research nurses, research midwives and CRPs are underpinned by EDI values. This means we must treat people as individuals, avoid making assumptions about them, recognise diversity and individual choice, respect and uphold their dignity and human rights.

It is important to involve women from a wide range of backgrounds in research studies, to ensure that the findings of the research can be applied to our diverse population. We also know that the outcomes for patients involved in research studies are better, so we must ensure that all patients have the opportunity to be involved in research.

One of our R&I EDHR Group milestones is: ‘Celebrating the diversity of our R&I Team’. In this context, I come from India, which is a country where linguistic diversity is important. Hindi is the mother tongue of almost half of the population in India, while English is used extensively and has the status of a subsidiary official language. I myself can speak a few Indian languages and this helps in understanding various cultures and beliefs.

Celebrating diversity and championing inclusion within the workplace is intended to create and maintain a positive work environment, where the similarities and differences of individuals are valued – and this is something we celebrate strongly within the R&I EDHR Group. A key driver for higher levels of diversity is ensuring we tap into the creative, cultural, and communicative skills of a variety of colleagues, and use those skills to improve healthcare policies and the experiences of our hospital patients and research participants.

My role as an R&I EDHR Group representative

My role as R&I EDHR Group rep is two-way, in that I disseminate information from a clinical research delivery perspective to the group and cascade key information back to my colleagues. I also play a role in delivering our R&I milestones.

A further key element of being a Clinical Research Delivery Team rep for EDHR is to provide mechanisms to share good practice. Every individual should be given the chance to achieve their potential, free from prejudice. Within R&I at MFT, it is essential to celebrate our diverse team to enhance professional knowledge, bring challenge and new perspectives to what we already do in research and innovation.

Organisations that embrace the EDI movement deliver better results, have more motivated staff and greater opportunities to innovate. It is everyone’s role to play a part in embedding equality, diversity and inclusion. I am excited to be part of our Research & Innovation EDHR Group and am looking forward to work with colleagues to contribute to the milestones during the next 12 months.