We were privileged to be able to attend a 2-day event in London for Dementia Care Doctoral Fellows from Wessex, East of England, Greater Manchester and the Peninsula CLAHRCs. This is the third such event and as before was packed with opportunities for learning, sharing and networking. It truly reflected the essence of CLAHRC – challenging practice, transforming healthcare, improving quality and involving patients and their carers.
With the CLAHRC funding ending next year many of us are thinking about our next steps and how to use the skills and knowledge we have developed during our fellowships. Dr Tamara Backhouse and Dr Nathan Davies shared with us their own successful journeys from doctoral to research fellow, with opportunity to ask questions and seek advice. It was then the turn of the doctoral fellows to share their work so far but in just 3-minutes with one slide! This 3-minute thesis approach was a real challenge but with feedback from both peers and professors provided a great development opportunity. We also brought along posters providing a focus for discussion and further sharing of experiences.
Our colleague Jason Corner ended the day with a crazy half hour apprentice-style team building activity, which involved finding and photographing 20 listed items both inside and outside the hotel. Our favourite was to find a dancing man! The evening gave us time to catch up with friends and colleagues, strengthening our network within the dementia care and academic community.
Dr Ruth Bartlett, who is internationally recognised for her work on citizenship, led the first session of the second day. Her thought provoking session about involving people with dementia and family carers in research stimulated much discussion, with opportunity to reflect on this important aspect of dementia research. With a CLAHRC objective being to create future leaders, the event would not have been complete without a session on leadership. Dr Simon Bailey, Research Fellow from the Manchester Business School, challenged our ideas of what leadership looks like, with discussion around our own leadership experience and opportunities. Professor Eneida Mioshi wrapped up the event and we left buoyed up from spending time with a group who shared our passion for research and improving the lives of those with dementia.
Of course this would not have been possible without those who worked behind the scenes and we would especially like to thank Carole Ponniah who organised the logistics of the event – no easy task! Many thanks also go to Professor Eneida Mioshi who co-ordinated the event and for the support from Professor Jackie Bridges, Professor Claire Goodman and Professor Jo Thompson-Coon.