Introduction: Increasing longevity is changing the key healthcare needs of our population. Accordingly, clinical research priorities must evolve to encompass the needs of older people historically under-represented in research—both as participants and involved partners. One strategy supporting research for the benefit of older people is to educate health and social care professionals about research with older people.
Innovation: Since 2008 Newcastle University has taught a multi-professional part-time programme—the Masters in Clinical Research (MClinRes). Initially delivered using traditional teaching, a subsequent development of an e-learning version facilitated students to engage with the course via distance learning. In recognition of the changing needs of the older population and the gap in clinical research training for those working with older people, a parallel course focusing on ageing research (MClinRes Ageing) was developed. These modules concentrate on age-related patterns of disease, priorities for clinical research involving older people and the benefits and challenges of working with older people in a research environment. One of the modules was developed with input from a local user group who advised on their preferences for course content.
Evaluation: Since inception, over 120 clinicians have registered on the MClinRes. Evaluation by numbers enrolling/successful graduation; student destination and quantitative and qualitative feedback show that this programme meets the learning needs of a workforce training as clinical researchers. Similar evaluation parameters will be used for the MClinRes (Ageing) evaluation to ascertain whether our ageing-specific modules have the potential to facilitate involvement of older people in research.
Conclusion: The new MClinRes (Ageing) programme was designed to fill a gap in training for clinical researchers working with older people. Our ageing-specific course will be subject to on-going evaluation to ensure that it meets the learning needs of professionals working with older people in a research environment.