Over the last few weeks, the SDRC have been delighted to share blogs from dementia research PhD students and early career researchers. Read the series so far here

 This blog is by Kenneth Davidson, who is a staff nurse at NHS Lothian and a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. His research relates to the SDRC Living with Dementia theme. Read more below:

 I am currently in my sixth year of studying towards a PhD (Nursing Studies) at the University of Edinburgh. I am fortunate enough to be on the NHS Lothian Clinical Academic Research Career (CARC) scheme, meaning I get to continue working clinically, as a staff nurse in a specialist dementia unit, while completing my PhD.

 My research aims to understand the experiences of people living with dementia (and other stakeholders) who are being cared for in the acute hospital. I am specifically interested in experiences of the discharge process from Orthopaedic Trauma as this is an area from which many people living with dementia do not return home (and are discharged to an institutional setting).  

 Researching peoples experiences, especially those who may have a diagnosis of dementia  and who are within a hospital environment, brings with it ethical and practical challenges. I therefore used the innovative method of “shadowing” to collect data. This involved spending time (approximately 20 hours over 4/5 visits) with people living with dementia in Orthopaedic Trauma and other environments (such as rehabilitation hospitals, community hospitals and care homes). I spent this time talking to them, observing them and assisting them to meet their basic needs (if requested). I also interviewed their nearest relative and staff in those areas regarding their experiences of caring for people living with dementia in hospital.

 The collected data gives a unique insight into the experiences of people living with dementia (and the aforementioned stakeholders) that can be used to inform the education and training of hospital staff. The “Dementia Simulation Day” at Edinburgh Napier University is a CPD course aimed at improving the hospital care of people living with dementia, some of the content of which is based on data collected for this research study. Find out more here

 Understanding peoples experiences of our health and social care services can shape strategy, policy and practice, and improve lives, but is a complex undertaking and is not always viewed as the best evidence to instigate change.  I therefore held an event in 2018 (with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh) to investigate the future of dementia research careers (from a social science perspective), hoping to highlight the value of researching people’s experiences. This event has led to the formation of a group, led by NHS Lothian, that is looking to develop a Lothian Dementia Strategy, and it is my hope that it will be underpinned and shaped by the experiences of people living with dementia and those that care for them.

 Contact: k.m.davidson@sms.ed.ac.uk