This Society was probably the first UK multi-professional rehabilitation society, founded in 1978. It is also probably still the only genuinely multi-professional society where all professions are equal. It is focused on research and does not campaign politically for rehabilitation. It is open to any professional interested in research into rehabilitation. It has included many professions from the outset, from social workers to engineers and from basic scientists to psychologists. It must be one of the least expensive professional societies to join at £25.00/year.
The Society’s website has a complete history, including a document chronicling its foundation in 1978. (here) Its constitution sets out the one object of the Society, “The object of the Society shall be to advance education and research into all aspects of the rehabilitation of people with disabilities and to disseminate the useful results of such research for
The constitution also sets out who may be members. “Membership of the Society shall be open to all professionally qualified persons involved in research and concerned with the objects of the Society. “ But, interestingly, in 1985 the Society allowed anyone to join, even if they were not professionally qualified, provided they were interested in research into some aspect of rehabilitation, “Council shall have the power to approve the nomination for membership of others whose research in rehabilitation they consider contributing to the objects of the Society.”
I think several points are notable. The Society is interested in advancing both education and research, and it is concerned with disseminating the results of research. It drew no boundaries around which professions may join and indeed now has no limits around who may join. Last, it does not specify what falls within the phrase, all aspects of the rehabilitation of people with disabilities. This openness results in the presentation of some fascinating and relevant research.
Contribution to the rehabilitation community
The Society for Research in Rehabilitation has much to contribute to any community of rehabilitation organisations. It was probably the first specialist rehabilitation society in the UK, and it was notably multi-professional from the very beginning. Further, although doctors were involved and were the first two presidents, council members have always included people from a variety of professions and a doctor has not been president since 2007. It is a great role model for a multi-professional organisation.
It is also the only Society that focuses on research in rehabilitation and is a leader in this regard. Abstracts from its research presentations have been published in Clinical Rehabilitation since 1987 when Clinical Rehabilitation was first published. The abstracts record much of the UK’s rehabilitation research output over the years.
Third, it has often run meetings in collaboration with other interested societies. It is currently running joint meetings with the British Society of Rehabilitation Medicine and the Association Of Chartered Physiotherapists For People With Learning Disabilities (ACPPLD). Over the years, it has run meetings with many organisations.
Its open and inclusive philosophy has led it to support initiatives such as the Community Rehabilitation Alliance (here). It has no obvious hierarchy and treats everyone with respect. Initially, when I joined, it had a reputation for questioning all those presenting papers in quite a strong way. I think that it was determined to show that rehabilitation research was a sound as any other branch of health research. It is now welcoming and supportive.
For more information
To get more information, visit the website (here) which gives easily accessible information about any aspect of the society. You can also see recent tweets from the society below. Its Twitter handle is @rehabresearchuk