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SCFT are consistently placed in the top ten for research activity in Care Trusts in England. The research activity league Table shows where we fit nationally and is published by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) each year. It provides details of research activity across all NHS trusts and CCGs in England.

We value research and innovation as the building block to ensuring the highest standards of care for our patients and service users. As a result, carrying out research and using research findings is encouraged and promoted across the Trust.

The National Health Service aims to provide the highest quality healthcare services possible. Research helps ensure that high-quality service provision is supported by evidence-based practice.

The Research and Innovation Team work to make sure that the research that takes place involving patients, service users and staff, is of the highest quality. 

See our latest Newsletter for current research activity.

Research at SCFT

SCFT has a diverse range of services and different types of research projects take place across the Trust in a variety of settings including inpatient units, clinics, GP surgeries and patient homes. Some research takes place without any ‘in person’ contact such as by phone, post, email or online, or researchers may collect information from existing data.

In particular, over the last 20 years key research has taken place at Chailey Clinical Services, around postural management, powered mobility and sleep disorders in children with cerebral palsy. Chailey Clinical Services is a unique centre that specialises in children's services for children with complex physical disability.

The type of research we carry out includes Urgent Public Health Studies; NIHR CRN Portfolio studies; externally funded non-commercial research; homegrown studies and smaller scale student research projects which form part of an academic qualification.

We collaborate with local, regional, national & international organisations to develop and deliver research projects and support research activity within the community.

Examples of Research led by SCFT

Speech and Language: developing an intervention together

The long term aim of this research is to develop and trial the feasibility of a complex intervention for pre-school children with comorbid speech and language difficulties. This is because pre-school children with this comorbid presentation are at significant risk of persisting needs relating to communication, emotional wellbeing and education as they grow older. This first stage of this project is being funded as a part of a HEE ICA National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF). For more information visit: Speech and language: developing an intervention together Research Project


Breathe-Easy Research Study

This research will provide important information about the experiences of children with complex neuro-disability and their families when they use a new postural management night-time intervention. The study is being carried out by a research team from Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust with funding from British Academy of Childhood Disability and Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. For more information visit: Breathe-Easy Research Study.

Realist Evaluation of AutismServiCe Delivery (RE-ASCeD) Research Study

This study is funded by Public Health England and led by SCFT. Involving SCFT Child Development Centres, it aims to examine existing models of Autism diagnostic service delivery, and to investigate which approaches offer the most timely, cost-effective, high quality and child and family friendly solutions, and in line with realist thinking, to identify the factors that are likely to underpin their success, or failure, if rolled out more generally across providers. For more information visit: RE-ASCeD Research Study.

EDACS - Eating and Drinking Ability Classification System

The Eating and Drinking Ability Classification System (EDACS) offers an alternative to subjective terms such as mild and moderate and severe which have no agreed definition. EDACS was developed by consulting with people with cerebral palsy, parents and experts around the world. It has been tested to see how easy and reliable it is when used by speech and language therapists and parents. EDACS is the product of an independent research project funded by the National Institute of Health Research. For more information visit: EDACS Research Project.

Feasibility Study in Music and Dementia

This inspirational film documents the impact of the research project - ‘Planned investigation, assessment & evaluation of the use of music-based interventions in the community hospital setting’. This six month partnership project was joint-funded and delivered by SCFT and the charity Wishing Well and led by the SCFT Lead Dementia Nurse at a Community Hospital. The project team included a film maker and supervision from the Director of the Centre for Dementia Studies at the University of Sussex.


European Research Projects

MOTION (Mechanised Orthosis for children with neurological disorders)

This project has received a grant of €7,476 119 from Interreg VA 2 Seas programme 2019-2023 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The MOTION study addresses two challenges:
(i) to advance development validation and adoption of bionic rehabilitation technology for children with neurological disorders to improve quality of life.
(ii) to set up a transregional network to transfer this rehabilitation technology and related knowledge from research to practical application by linking with industry, healthcare professionals and users and to interact with policy makers for the creation of supportive frameworks. If upcoming medical trials prove that rehabilitation with exoskeleton suits leads to a lower total medical costs insurance companies will cover part of the bill and offer the possibility that hundreds of rehabilitation centres open or upgrade their current equipment to include exoskeleton devices which would result in the sale of thousands of units.

Chailey Clinical Services will provide clinical expertise to the UK partners with development and testing of the equipment.

For more information visit the MOTION project website


  • Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (UK)
  • University of Greenwich
  • Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network LTD (KSS AHSN)
  • Kinetic Analysis
  • KU Leuven
  • CEA – LETI
  • Thomas More University of Applied Sciences
  • University of Kent
  • Rehabilitation Center for children and youth Pulderbos
  • Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux énergies alternatives
  • Sint Maartenskliniek

The project benefits from further involvement of service users and a group of observers: Groupement of Hospitals of the Catholic Institute of Lille; Injeno; PACQUET INDUSTRIE; UP-tex Competitivness Cluster; Expertise and Ressources Center for Assistive Technologies of APF France handicap; University Hospital of Lille; Belgische Beroepsvereniging voor Orthopedische Technologieën (BBOT); CM Landsbond; PETIT BATEAU

EDUCAT (Empowerment of Disabled people through the User Coproduction of Assistive Technology

EDUCAT is a European funded project to develop and deliver adaptive, open and modular technology to promote independence and improve quality of life for people with motor impairment and neurological disorders.

The project aims to promote a user-centred assistive technology design using co-design methods involving service users, engineers, clinicians, researchers, user-support networks and companies. A key element of the project is to incorporate monitoring of equipment usage patterns. It is anticipated that analysis of this data will provide diagnostic information on user condition and changes in that condition. This information will improve the prescription of assistive technology, inform the ongoing adaptation of that technology to meet user needs and increase the success rate for the long term provision of assistive technology. The outcome will be to improve the user quality of life. The development is supported by clinical trials throughout the project.

The expected benefits are cost and time savings for companies (for developing technologies) and hospitals (for care) as well as a higher efficiency of use of the technology.

The long term goal is to deliver affordable technology through cross-border collaboration and facilitate uptake on the market.

For more information visit the EDUCAT project website


The project benefits from further involvement of service users and a group of observers: CRN-T APF (FR), DSP Valley (BE), Dynamic Control (UK), ESIGELEG (FR), Eurasanté (FR), KABIF (UK) and SWBF (UK).

This project has received a grant of €1,798,722.60 from Interreg VA 2 Seas programme 2014-2021 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Research information for Patients and Public

Clinical research is about the way we improve and provide health care and covers a wide variety of methods and treatments. This can include medication (e.g. pain killers), diagnostic tests (e.g. blood tests) medical devices (e.g. epipens) and therapies (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy), as well as preventative care and education.

Research is also about improving through experience, seeking opinions and reviewing how healthcare is delivered. Participating in research may involve tracking how you experience your healthcare and treatment and this could be by phone, completing a form or online survey.

The NHS constitution states that it is every patient’s right to be able to participate in a research study, should they wish to, and should they meet the requirements of the study

If you are a patient with us, you may be approached and asked if you wish to take part in a research study. Alternatively, you may wish to ask your clinician if they are involved in any research studies.

Useful links:

Be Part of Research - a NIHR campaign encourages patients, carers and the public to get involved in research and helps you find out about health and social care research that is taking place across the UK.

INVOLVE - national advisory group who promote public involvement in NHS, public health and social care research.

Join Dementia Research - for people with dementia or memory problems, their carers and anyone who is interested can sign up and get involved in supporting vital research studies across the nation.

NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT) - research participants are invited to give feedback on the service they receive from our research team by completing a short Friends and Family Questionnaire. Please contact the Research and Innovation Team if you’d like more information or help with completing the questionnaire.

The Health Research Authority (HRA) - sets standards for NHS organisations to make sure they protect your privacy and comply with the law when they are involved in research. The HRA Research Ethics Committees, review research studies to make sure that the research uses of data about you are in the public interest, and meet ethical standards.

Patient Research Experience Survey - if you have recently taken part in a clinical research study/trial the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Clinical Research Network (CRN KSS) would be grateful if you could complete this anonymous questionnaire about your experience, so we can improve our service.

Research Champions - Research Champions are people who have taken part in a research study before, as well as those who haven’t. They volunteer their time to help spread the word about health and care research, and help research and healthcare staff understand more about the experiences of those who take part.

National data opt-out - a service that allows patients to opt out of their confidential patient information being used for research and planning.

The James Lind Alliance - a non-profit making initiative bringing patients, carers and clinicians together to identify and prioritise unanswered questions or evidence uncertainties that they agree are the most important, this is to make sure that health research funders are aware of the issues that matter most.

What is Health Research? Future Learn free online courses - learn how health research happens, why it matters and what to expect if you take part.

Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG), Kent, Surrey and Sussex - Support the design and delivery of paediatric research in the UK. Members are aged between eight and 19 and meet bi-monthly, coming together for a national meeting once a year. GenerationR is a national network of young people’s advisory groups (YPAGs) based across the UK.

You can also check the Trust details on Patient information and how we use it.

Research information for Clinicians and Researchers

There is evidence to suggest that research active Trusts have better patient outcomes.

We identify research as a direct contributor to improving the quality of services and implementing models of good practice.


All staff are encouraged to participate in research, as it is an excellent opportunity to learn new skills. You can get involved in a number of ways:

If you are about to undertake a piece of research, it is essential that you contact the Research & Innovation Team for guidance and information. Please note we only support postgraduate research projects. Masters and PhD students please contact us for advice as soon as you start preparing your research proposal.

Useful links:

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) - the research arm of the NHS and overarching entity for all publicly-funded research in the NHS.

NIHR Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex (CRN KSS) - provides the infrastructure that allows high-quality clinical research to take place in the NHS in this area.

Health Research Authority (HRA) - provides information about developing research studies and applying for ethical and governance approvals.

Improving Healthcare Through Clinical Research Future Learn free online courses - find out how medical treatments are discovered, tested and evaluated to improve healthcare for all.

Research Design Service South East (RDS) - provides research design and methodological support and guidance to develop grant applications. Advice is confidential and free of charge. Sign up to the RDS mailing list for regular updates and events.

Library and Knowledge Services - can help with Systematic reviews, which bring together all the existing literature on a particular clinical question, advice on academic writing, and managing/formatting references and provide access to evidence resources online.

Applied Research Collaborative Kent, Surrey & Sussex (ARC KSS) - support applied health & care research that responds to, and meets, the needs of local populations and local health & care systems. Sign up to the newsletter for regular updates including funding opportunities and events.


Research Performance

The Research and Innovation Operational Capability Statement sets out how the Trust plans to meet its research related responsibilities. The statement also provides researchers with an operational overview.

As a NHS provider holding National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) contracts, we are required, every quarter, to publish our performance on study initiation of non-commercial clinical trials and our performance on delivery of commercially sponsored clinical trials.

View SCFT performance reports here: CTP Submission Platform - Public Trust View

Research Newsletters

For details of studies running at SCFT, research events, project funding & training/academic opportunities, sign up to receive the quarterly research newsletter and alerts:

Read our Research newsletters here:

Books and Publications

The Chailey Sleep Questionnaire

This sleep questionnaire provides a systematic way of identifying sleep problems in children with severe cerebral palsy and provides useful information on which to base a treatment plan. The questionnaire can be completed at a child’s home or in a clinic.

The layout of the Clinical and Sleep Profiles are clear and provide a comprehensive picture of a child’s sleep.

The questionnaire is divided into the Clinical Profile which highlights areas impacting on sleep and a Sleep Profile section which provides a sleep history. It is recommended that a one week sleep diary is completed as well to provide further details of a child’s sleep. Action boxes are used to identify problem areas. Where a red arrow is ticked it is recommended that the information should be brought to the child’s paediatrician.

To order a copy:

Contact Samantha Joslin at samantha.joslin@nhs.net

The Chailey Approach to Postural Management (2nd Edition)

This describes an approach to assessing postural ability in children with neurological impairment, and the provision of treatment and equipment using the principles of developmental biomechanics.

The book will be of interest to physiotherapists, occupational therapists, paediatricians and clinical and rehabilitation engineers, working in the field of neurodisability and rehabilitation. It includes a revised Chailey Levels of Ability assessment chart and supporting CD ROM.

To order a copy:

Contact Samantha Joslin at samantha.joslin@nhs.net

Further Information

Please contact Samantha Joslin for a current publications list or any further assistance samantha.joslin@nhs.net or telephone 01825 722112

Virtual Research Conference 2021

SCFT Virtual Research Conference – Evidence into Practice 

The programme of lunchtime sessions highlighted the importance of evidence-based practice, provided learning and networking opportunities, and celebrated research at the Trust. With thanks to all who participated and supported the event.

Monday 17th May 2021
This session includes a Conference opening from Siobhan Melia, SCFT CEO and introduction from Dr Donna Cowan, SCFT Research & Innovation Director. Keynote speaker, Professor Stephen Peckham, Director of the Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) for Kent, Surrey and Sussex, provides an overview of the ARC KSS and a brief description of the core areas of work - capacity building, research and implementation. Discussing the key values  and objectives, summarising the work to date and what the ARC KSS aims to achieve. Followed by a short Q&A.

Please click here to see our recording of the session.

Tuesday 18th May 2021

This session includes a brief introduction from Dr Donna Cowan, SCFT Research & Innovation Director. Keynote speaker, Professor Annette BoazProfessor of Health & Social Care Policy at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, discusses how to better mobilize research evidence to support improvement in services. Starting with the gap between the research evidence and practice change, and  talking about the different bodies of knowledge that help us address this gap. Focusing in particular on the implementation of science and mobilization of knowledge. Followed by a short Q&A. 

Please click here to see our recording of the session. 

‘Workshop’ Wednesday 19th May 2021

With a brief introduction from Helen Vaughan, SCFT Research & Innovation Manager

Finding evidence
 - Whatever your role the library services can help you access the best quality evidence & information for your work. Whether you need it for patient care, improvement work, teaching, governance or research, learn how the library services can help you undertake literature searches and  evaluate the evidence, find out how to get research published & how knowledge updates can be tailored to your professional interests.  Hosted by the Library & Knowledge Services. 

Please click here to see our recording of the session. 

Undertaking Research in SCFT: how do we make it happen? - This myth-busting workshop, will take you through how we deliver research to our patients & staff.  Topics include: Patient Benefit, PPI  and Evidence Based Practice; The Importance of ‘Off the Shelf’ research; Being a Principal Investigator and Clinical Service Involvement; Ethics and Regulations. Hosted by the SCFT Research Team.

Please click here to see our recording of the session. 

Thursday 20th May 2021
This session highlights the diversity of Research taking place in the community at SCFT,  with a brief Introduction from Dr Will Farr, Senior Research Fellow in Paediatric Neurodisability/Psychology and includes the following short presentations:

Eating and Drinking Ability Classification System for Individuals with Cerebral Palsy (EDACS) International project - Dr Diane Sellers, Clinical Specialist & Lead SALT

Empowerment of Disabled people through the User Coproduction of Assistive Technology (EDUCAT) European project - Dr Donna Cowan, Consultant Clinical Scientist & Research Director

Interventions for Children with Memory Difficulties Following Traumatic Brain Injury - Dr Fiona Snyder, Senior Clinical Psychologist and Paediatric Clinical Neuropsychologist & Clinical Lead for Neuro-CAMHS for ABI & Neurodisability

Dental teams awareness and use of Delivering Better Oral Health for dental patients with early dementia - Dr Robert Emmanuel, Consultant in Special Care Dentistry

Adolescents’ experiences of communication following acquired brain injury Katherine Buckeridge, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist. Click here to view poster.
Lived experience of people who self-identify as coping with Persistent Lower Back Pain - Raffaela Kurz, Senior Physiotherapist. Click here to view poster.

Please click here to see our recording of the session. 

Friday 21st May 2021
This session celebrates all levels of research at SCFT, with a brief introduction from Dr Claire Turner, Consultant in Public Health and includes the following short presentations:

Realist Evaluation of Autism Service Delivery (RE-ASCeD) National Project - Dr Ian Male, Consultant Paediatrician

Wayfinder - future software to assist decision making for Clinical Diagnostic Teams - Dr Will Farr, Senior Research Fellow in Paediatric Neurodisability/Psychology

Mechanised Orthosis for children with neurological disorders (MOTION) European Project - Dr Sarah Crombie, Clinical Specialist  & Lead Physiotherapist

Developing research into participation of children with physical disability at school. Click here to view poster - Dr Sarah Crombie, Clinical Specialist  & Lead Physiotherapist

Standardised tools to manage clinical uncertainty for people admitted to a community hospital - Dr Catherine Evans, Honorary Nurse Consultant & HEE/NIHR Senior Clinical Lecturer in Palliative Care; SCFT/KCL

Integrated palliative care intervention for people with long-term neurological conditions - Dr Catherine Evans, Honorary Nurse Consultant & HEE/NIHR Senior Clinical Lecturer in Palliative Care; SCFT/KCL. Click here to view poster. 

Secondary Stroke Prevention in the Community - Karen Jephson, Neuro Rehab Nurs. Click here to view poster.

Grounding in reality: incorporating stakeholder preferences into an intervention development proposal - Lucy Rodgers, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist (Early Years). Click here to view poster. 

Please click here to see our recording of the session. 

*Please complete the short feedback survey to obtain an attendance certificate and claim your CPD points for each session attended or viewed, and to help us plan future events.*

This content will be available to access until end of June 2021.

Contact Us

We have a dedicated team of research support staff to facilitate your study set up, recruitment and ongoing management.

For all enquiries please email SC-TR.Research@nhs.net or phone the team on 01273 696011 ext. 3795

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