Sweden. A beautiful land of trees, lakes, more trees and more lakes.
The country is also home to at least two internationally-renowned ‘centres of excellence in dementia research’, in Linköping University and the Karolinska Institute, and it is the land which I was honored to visit last week!
The Alzheimer’s Society and NIHR provided funding for an amazing opportunity for Dementia PhD Researchers around the UK and Sweden to get together to learn, network and be inspired. I am privileged to have been a part of it!
So, apart from taking away a selection of Swedish vocabulary, exploring the beautiful city of Norrköping, and enjoying a stunning train journey from Stockholm to Norrköping at sunset, here are my reflections on a fantastic few days:
Last June I wrote a blog post about changing the world through my PhD. I still believe my research is an important step to making change to wider practice, and to getting a job in which I can influence positive change.
But changing the world doesn’t have to be such large scale! We can change another person’s world just by treating them as a person!
So how can we treat our patients more like people? We start by looking beyond the task we’re performing to the person we are with.
Working together in health care is so important, and where are all the OTs? These are my main take away points from the Primary Care and Public Health conference 2016.
Wednesday morning at the NEC, Birmingham; the Exhitbition Hall was buzzing with thousands of people and almost 200 stands displaying health care related organisations, products and brands. The range was incredible: mother and baby, rare illnesses such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, skin care, nutrition, cancer, older people and much more. At the back of the hall were small “theatres” with bitesize presentations about the body, skin and nutrition.
What a lot to take in and explore – so what did I discover?
A great opportunity came up for me when I was invited to present at the Agents for Nutrition and Tissue Viability Study day (ANTS) at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital last Tuesday. If you read my previous blog post Understanding Eating in Dementia – more than just memory loss, you will get a brief overview of what I talked about!
Aside from my own presentation, however, it was the rest of the day that I particularly enjoyed. I loved hearing how nutrition is so relevant to such a range of topics – Acute Kidney Injury, Diabetes, Stroke, Tissue Viability – and developing my knowledge about PEG feeding and Nasogastric tubes!
Just over a year in, and I’m close to submitting the 3rd and final milestone of my clinical-academic PhD – it’s time for the pace to pick up!
This milestone is my research proposal, combining and justifying all the procedures and theory that underpin the research project, and laying out a plan for how it’s all going to work in action.
Milestone 3 is a great time to look back, to realise what the last year has been all about.
Long ago… back in the year 2015… I completed the University of Tasmania’s ‘Understanding Dementia Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)’ – something I would highly recommend to anyone from any walk of life who has an interest in dementia or dementia care.
Particularly impressed by Dr Jane Tolman’s presentation on the different domains of dementia, I felt it was something everyone should be familiar with!
Last Tuesday morning I excitedly boarded the train to begin my journey to the 10th UK Dementia Congress in Telford. I was looking forward to diving into the Dementia world, meeting new people as well as those I have connected with on Twitter. The programme looked fantastic and it was the first residential conference I have attended – expectations were high!
On Thursday evening I boarded the train home – flagging and exhausted, with a lot to process! My feelings during the week were so mixed. At times I felt the buzz of enthusiasm, of future prospects; at other times I felt the despair and struggles still going on all around us in dementia care – not to mention to the health and social care systems as a whole!
It has been a while since I last posted so I thought I would update you on my progress.
The last couple of months have been primarily spent working on my 2nd milestone – the initial literature review.
The Clinical Academic pathway I am undertaking involves splitting my time, 60% academic and 40% clinical – this is often a tough ask. Priorities must be balanced and schedules carefully managed. With this split, the question often raised is this: during my PhD, is my clinical work secondary to my academic?
I would argue no!
On overhearing a 3rd year PhD student saying that “when you start your PhD you think you will change the world but you very quickly learn otherwise, realising your work will be of little significance”, I was horrified and disappointed – what is the point of what I’m about to embark on? Why spend 4 years of my life working towards something which will not have any impact?