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MSc Advanced Dementia Studies student Sarah standing in her garden


MSc Advanced Dementia Studies

Sarah is a part-time distance learning student based in the Midlands.

She is currently working in social work; direct practice and education, and volunteers to provide one-to-one support to somebody living with dementia.

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MSc Advanced Dementia Studies?

Why did you decide to study MSc Advanced Dementia Studies?

"My job involves supporting people living with dementia, their families and carers.

"I was keen to undertake additional study to increase my knowledge and understanding so that I could feel more confident in the role and support people more effectively.

"When I found out about this course it seemed like the perfect opportunity to return to study."

What do you enjoy most about the course?

"I like the multi-disciplinary nature of the course - I work alongside and learn from people with a wide range of experience including nurses, occupational therapists, care home managers, as well as people whose professional experience is outside traditional adult health and social care settings. Everyone brings a different perspective.

"The course is designed with a lot of scope to identify our own projects and areas of interest, so that each module is individualised to our own learning needs and place of work."

"The other aspect of the course which is important to me is the strong value base in relation to supporting the rights and championing the perspective of people living with dementia.

"The emphasis on working in partnership with people, hearing their voices and challenging stereotypes fits with my own professional value base, and has also given me more confidence to articulate this in practice."

What do you hope to do in the future?

"My background is social work and I currently split my working time between a role in direct practice and a role in social work education.

"I am also a volunteer, supporting someone living with dementia on a one-to-one basis.

"On completion of the course, I'd like to continue to combine the two aspects of practice and education.

"I'd also be interested in any opportunities to take up a more specialised role or get involved in research."

MSc Advanced Dementia Studies student Sarah Lambert profile image

Have you used the skills from the course in your day-to-day work?

"The first module asked us to carry out an investigation into the experience of a person living with dementia, with a particular focus on upholding their rights.

"With her agreement, I worked with the person that I support in my volunteering role. This helped me get to know her better and really strengthened our relationship.

"The knock-on benefit was how far it improved her confidence to know she was helping me.

"When I passed the module she was absolutely delighted, and it was great to celebrate our success together."

"The second module asked us to identify and appraise research.

"I was able to identify a topic which was relevant to my workplace, around increasing the effectiveness of post-diagnostic support to people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

"The reading I did in this area really transformed my own outlook and understanding. It also led to some interesting conversations with colleagues and people living with dementia about improvements we could make locally.

"This year I have been able to branch out and do something totally different, getting involved in offering a craft activity to a group living with dementia. It's been really enjoyable, as well as a massive learning curve."

I have been able to use some of the evaluation techniques from the course. I'm now thinking about how I can transfer these techniques to evaluating other aspects of our service.

Sarah Lambert

Do you enjoy distance learning?

"This is my first experience of distance learning and I really do enjoy it.

"I have been impressed with how easy it was to enrol and access the learning materials.

"The course is designed around learning activities in which we post work for others to see and we all comment on each other's projects and ideas, which feels very supportive.

"As the course has progressed I feel much more confident in using online resources. I'm more aware of the wealth of different information, resources and innovative projects which are out there."

"We have online tutorials and a chance to chat informally as well, so I do feel part of a learning community.

"Distance learning allows me to fit in study around other work and family commitments which makes it more manageable, although juggling different commitments is still a major challenge.

"I work part-time for a local university, and deadlines for completing a piece of my own work and marking the work of my students often coincide, which puts me under additional pressure - but it's a lovely feeling when everything is done."  

The course is 100% distance learning. I'm not sure if I should confess that I've never been to Bradford - I live about 150 miles away in the Midlands. I am really looking forward to coming to visit for my graduation!

Sarah Lambert

Do you have any advice for students thinking of studying this course?

"Firstly, I'd say to be aware that the modules are very closely linked in with practical activities. If you work in health or social care, do make sure your employer is fully on board as you will need to draw on your work experiences to link to the learning.

"Secondly, make sure you keep in contact with your coursemates and tutors so you don't feel isolated, and get the support if you need it.

"Thirdly, make time for the things you enjoy, whether it's spending time with friends and family or keeping up hobbies and interests. I am a keen canoeist and getting out on the water just takes all the stress away.

"Finally, if you can, take opportunities to choose learning activities which are out of your comfort zone, be prepared to reflect on practice and be challenged - and enjoy!"

MSc Advanced Dementia Studies student Sarah Lambert in her garden

Interested in
MSc Advanced Dementia Studies?