Full-time PhD Student
Research title: Developing objective measures of the self in dementia.
Supervisors: Dr Sarah Smith (University of Bradford), Professor Claire Surr (Leeds Beckett University), Professor Jan Oyebode (University of Bradford), Dr Chris Moulin (Université de Bourgogne, Dijon).
I started my research studies at the University of Bradford in July 2013, after receiving a PhD Studentship Grant from the Alzheimer’s Society. I have previously studied at the University of Leeds with an interest in memory changes associated with ageing, which progressed to a more specific interest in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
I am an Alzheimer’s Society volunteer and as such have been involved with reminiscence activities, aiming to improve the well-being of people living with dementia and memory impairment. It is recognised that maintaining one’s self and identity is a fundamental human need, and evidence suggests that dementia can have a negative impact on the self. However schemes such as reminiscence and life story work, designed to enhance the well-being of people living with dementia, are being developed but it has been difficult to assess the effectiveness of such interventions.
This study aims to develop a measuring tool (a “Self-Test”) that is able to measure aspects of the self and any changes that occur after interventions. It is envisaged that this tool will be used by researchers and practitioners who wish to evaluate the effectiveness of specific care methods, especially those designed to enhance person-centred care. This is a care practice developed by the late Tom Kitwood who established the Bradford Dementia Group. Person-centred care is an approach that has become well established in the UK and world-wide. Clinical staff and carers who adopt this approach view clients as whole people and provide care that continues to identify and support individuality and personhood.
I feel very privileged to have received the Alzheimer’s Society Grant, to be part of the Dementia Group and continue to promote the work and ethos of Tom Kitwood. I am well supported by the research community in the Faculty of Health Studies, including academic and support staff, post graduate students, research fellows and research assistants.